Desperate Times…

It’s not news to report that Vladamir Putin’s drive to recruit 300,000 conscripts to serve on the front lines of his special military operation has failed miserably. Some men who answered the call were returned to their families only days later in coffins. However, because of the increasing levels of protest, Putin has turned to one place where it’s difficult for potential recruits to say “no,” prison.

The Kremlin didn’t turn to ordinary military recruiters to try to get prisoners to be soldiers; they tapped the Wagner Group to get the job done. For those not in the know, the Wagner Group are private military contractors (PMC) fighting for Russia. Government officials have denied ties to the paid fighters, but western intelligence says they have direct ties to the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. No one seems to be quite sure how they are funded or by whom.

According to an independent Russian Media outlet, Mediazone, Russia may be emptying its prisons to fill Wagner’s and the army’s ranks,

“In September and October 2022, the number of prisoners in Russian correctional colonies decreased by 23 thousand people. There have never been such sharp jumps since 2010: even the most massive amnesty in recent years released a smaller number of Russians in such a short time.”

Since there have been public releases of Wagner recruiting in prison, some of this is probably true.  It is also true that it’s not hard to get thrown into prison in Russia for minor infractions and the average Russian might be minding his Ps and Qs very carefully about not doing anything to get in trouble with the law.  As we understand it, civilian prisons also receive prisoners from the military who are convicted of crimes.  With so many serving in Ukraine right now, and the critical manpower shortages the Russian army is facing, they may not be charging as many of their own soldiers with crimes committed in uniform.  For many soldiers in the Russian army, a year in prison probably looks much better than a year of fighting in Ukraine.