By Matthew Roscoe •
Published: 30 Oct 2022 • 8:38
Wagner Group 'prioritising quantity over quality' by recruiting Russian prisoners with HIV says British MoD. Image: AnnaTamila/Shutterstock.com
The Wagner Group – a network of mercenaries and a de facto private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin – have reportedly recruited prisoners from Russian prisons suffering from serious infectious diseases, in particular HIV and hepatitis C – in a move seen as ‘prioritising quantity over quality’ by British intelligence.
“On 27 October 2022, Russian mogul Yevgeny Prigozhin posted online, apparently admitting allegations that his private military company, the Wagner Group, had altered its standards & was recruiting Russian convicts suffering from serious diseases including HIV & Hepatitis C,” the British MoD wrote on Twitter.
“The role of Wagner Group has evolved significantly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In previous conflicts, it maintained relatively high recruitment standards, with many of its operators having previously served as professional Russian soldiers.”
It added: “The admission of prisoners with serious medical concerns highlights an approach which now prioritises numbers over experience or quality.
“Prigozhin’s has recently discussed plans to create a 200km long defensive ‘Wagner Line’ in eastern Ukraine. This endeavour would require a large labour force.
“There is a realistic possibility that some of the convict recruits will initially be put to work constructing the defences.”
As noted, according to information gathered by the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Russian military officials have been forced to mark such sick fighters with appropriate bracelets on their arms.
Ukraine’s defence intelligence department said on October 25: “The phenomenon has already become widespread.
“Thus, only from one correctional colony №5 in the village of Metallostroy, Leningrad region, more than a hundred prisoners with confirmed HIV or hepatitis C were “mobilised” to the PMC “Wagner”.
“To “mark” infected militants, the command of the “Wagner” forces them to wear red bracelets in case of HIV, and white – in case of hepatitis.”
It added: “Among other militants who are forced to serve alongside the infected, there is growing indignation at this situation. It is known that Russian doctors systematically refuse to provide assistance to the wounded with hepatitis or HIV.
“Captured militants with HIV and hepatitis have already been found in Ukraine, which confirms the information about mass “recruitment” of infected prisoners to the PMC “Wagner”.”
Earlier this month, a former Russian prisoner, who said he had been recruited personally by Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, said all recruited prisoners were being used as “cannon fodder” to reconnoitre Ukrainian positions on the front line.
“Recruiting prisoners in Russian prisons, the head of the PMC “Wagner” promised them that they would be able to “wash away their sins” with the blood of Ukrainians and receive “clean” documents. But despite the promises, they are thrown to the front line as “cannon fodder,” the SBU said on Tuesday, October 18.
“So some “volunteers”, interrogation by the SBU, “fought” in Ukraine for two days – he arrived on September 21, and the next day he was taken, prisoner by Ukrainian forces.”
The man captured by Ukraine’s Security Service revealed that when Prigozhin recruited him and other prisoners, they were told a completely different story to what actually ended up happening in Ukraine.
The man told the SBU: “We are used as cannon fodder. Our commander sent us forward, at first we walked together, and then looked back – they were very far away. We are just cannon fodder: to know where the positions are, who is standing where… We are like cannon fodder… When we were recruited, we were told a completely different story.”
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at email@example.com.
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