Ukraine conflict: Kremlin-linked Wagner Group recruiting Russian convicts amid 'severe manpower challenge' - MoD

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has given an intelligence update on the recruitment efforts in Russia from the shadowy paramilitary organisation, the Wagner Group.

In the latest intelligence briefing, the MoD state that the Kremlin-linked Russian private military company Wagner Group has launched a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for the ongoing war in Ukraine.

The Wagner Group is an organisation of groups and companies said to be involved in Russian operations in Ukraine.

First identified in 2014 during Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the network of mercenaries, troops and organisations has featured among Russian military operations as an extended, semi-independent branch of its military.

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The group is not registered in Russia or any other country – meaning it doesn't appear to exist legally as a single entity.

In their latest update, the MoD said: “Kremlin-linked Russian private military company Wagner Group has been conducting a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for service in Ukraine since at least July. Prisoners have been offered commutation of their sentences as well as cash incentives.

"This has been reinvigorated, with recently posted video highly likely showing Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin making a recruitment pitch to prisoners. In the video, Prigozhin emphasises that he is only seeking ‘fighters for assault units’.”

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The letter Z, which has become the Russian emblem for the war. The Wagner Group has launched a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for the ongoing war in Ukraine.

It added: “Separately, Russian military academies are shortening training courses and bringing cadets graduation dates forwards. This is almost certainly so cadets can be deployed to support the Ukraine operation. The impact of Russia's manpower challenge has become increasingly severe.”

Last night, President Zelensky said Ukrainian authorities found a mass burial site near a recaptured north-eastern city previously occupied by Russian forces,.

“A mass grave of people was found in Izium in the Kharkiv region. The necessary procedures have already begun there. More information – clear, verifiable information – should be available tomorrow,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly televised address.

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Mr Zelensky said that during the five months the Russians occupied the region, they “only destroyed, only deprived, only took away. They left behind devastated villages; in some of them there is not a single undamaged house. The occupiers turned schools into garbage dumps, and churches – shattered, literally turned into toilets.”