Russia's infamous Wagner Group is throwing prisoners who 'have nothing to lose' on the frontlines, Ukrainian advisor says
- Russia's Wagner Group is sending prisoners with "nothing to lose" to the frontlines, per Politico.
- A top Ukrainian advisor said they are being pushed to fight in the eastern city of Bakhmut.
A top Ukrainian military advisor said Russia's notorious Wagner Group paramilitary organization is sending prisoners to the frontlines to die in the war.
"They recently hired a lot of prisoners. They're being pushed on the frontline [in Bakhmut]," said Oleksandr Danylyuk, Ukraine's former national security advisor who now helps with military planning, according to Politico.
He continued: "They are — I cannot say fearless — but they have nothing to lose pretty much. So, they are attacking constantly and they've been killed in big quantities as well."
The prisoners have been shoved to the forefront of the fighting in the war-torn Ukrainian city of Bakhmut.
The Wagner Group — which has close ties to the Kremlin — has fought alongside Russian troops in Ukraine. Yevgeny Prigozhin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leader of Wagner, was seen earlier this year recruiting fighters from a Russian prison, offering them freedom if they get deployed to the battlefield.
Russian forces have been trying to capture Bakhmut, a city in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region that had a population of over 70,000 people, for months now. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called it the "hottest spot" of the entire war, and even made a surprise trip there on Tuesday to visit troops.
Britain's defense ministry said in a recent intelligence update that Wagner Group mercenaries have played a "major role" in combat operations around the city, and the group "developed offensive tactics to make use of the large number of poorly trained convicts it has recruited."
Individual Wagner fighters have been told to advance on their targets — oftentimes without being accompanied by armored vehicles — while higher-up officials remain behind, Britain's defense ministry said.
"These brutal tactics aim to conserve Wagner's rare assets of experienced commanders and armoured vehicles, at the expense of the more readily available convict-recruits, which the organization assesses as expendable," Britain's defense ministry said.
Moscow's reliance on the Wagner Group in Ukraine is indicative of the serious manpower issues facing the Russian military. Russia's forces are estimated to have suffered up to 100,000 casualties since the war began in late February, which is an astonishingly large figure in a conflict that's not even a year old.
Putin sought to address some of Russia's personnel problems via a partial military mobilization that was announced in September. The mobilization did not go well, however, facing pushback from the public and leading thousands of men to flee the country.
The war in Ukraine has gone poorly for Russia overall, leaving its military and economy depleted as the year comes to a close. Putin recently made a rare admission that the war has not gone to plan, pointing to the "extremely difficult" situation in occupied Ukrainian territories that the Russian leader illegally annexed in September — despite the fact Russian forces did not fully control or occupy these regions.
Russia has lost ground to Ukraine's forces in the occupied regions in the time since Putin announced the so-called annexations, retreating from Kherson — the first major city Russia captured following the invasion — last month. The Russian military is also running low on munitions, which Western officials have said will make it difficult to successfully conduct ground operations.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the United Kingdom's chief of defense staff, earlier this month said "Russia is losing" in Ukraine and will continue to fail.
"It will only get worse for Russia," Radakin said, citing "a critical shortage of artillery munitions."
- Billionaire investor Mark Mobius says he's been able to get his money out of China, but investing in the country is still a 'dilemma' amid national security laws
- The Carnival cruise passenger who went overboard and remains missing was on his first cruise and it became his 'happy place,' his fiancée said
- My fiancé and I picked out my engagement ring together before he proposed, and I don't regret missing out on the surprise
- Attractiveness of gold depends on US Fed's moves, say analysts
- Coal India’s ₹4,000 crore offer for sale subscribed 4x times
- Nvidia's Jensen Huang started with a $10 million failure before shifting gears to become a $1 trillion company
- Meet the top Nifty50 performers in FY23
- Apple to declare the 12-inch MacBook as obsolete on June 30