Russia’s Wagner Group is trying to recruit 1,500 criminals for the war in Ukraine

The Wagner Group, a Russian private military company, is trying to recruit over 1,500 convicted felons to take part in Russia’s war in Ukraine, but many are refusing to join, a senior US defense official said Monday.

“Our information indicates that Wagner suffered heavy casualties in Ukraine, particularly and unsurprisingly among young and inexperienced fighters,” the US official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

The European Union has imposed sanctions on the Wagner group, accusing them of operating secretly on behalf of the Kremlin.

President Vladimir Putin said the group does not represent the Russian state, but private military companies have the right to operate anywhere in the world as long as they do not violate Russian law.

The US official pointed to recent social media videos that appear to show Yevgeny Prigozhin, with whom the US Treasury Department and European Union have ties to the Wagner Group, attempting to recruit prisoners.

The video appeared to show Prigozhin trying to recruit Russian prisoners, as well as Tajiks, Belarusians and Armenians.

Russian soldiers take part in the'Vostok-2022' military exercises at the Uspenovsky training ground (Sakhalin island) outside the Russian Far East city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk on September 4, 2022.
The Russian Wagner Group is trying to recruit over 1,500 convicted criminals to take part in the Russian war in Ukraine.
Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images

Reuters has not independently verified the social media videos.

Wagner Group fighters have been accused by human rights groups and the Ukrainian government of committing war crimes in Syria and eastern Ukraine since 2014.

In July, British military intelligence said Russia had used Wagner to bolster its front-line troops in the Ukraine conflict.

Russia has suffered between 70,000 and 80,000 casualties, either killed or wounded, since beginning its invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon said last month.

Ukraine extended its hold on recently recaptured territory on Monday as troops marched further east into areas abandoned by Russia, paving the way for a possible attack on occupying forces in the Donbass region. Russia’s Wagner Group is trying to recruit 1,500 criminals for the war in Ukraine


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