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Russian prisoners sent to Ukraine must now fight until the end of the war rather than for 6 months, report says

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Russian soldiers

Russian soldiers in St. Petersburg on August 25, 2022.Photo by OLGA MALTSEVA/AFP via Getty Images

  • Russian prisoners recruited to fight in Ukraine are no longer sent for six months, the BBC reported.

  • Instead, they will likely have to stay until the war ends, whenever that might be.

  • One man who claimed he was a recruited prisoner warned: “If you sign up now, be ready to die.”

Russian prisoners who are sent to fight in Ukraine are now being made to serve until the war ends instead of just for six months, the BBC reported.

Russia has sent tens of thousands of prisoners to fight in Ukraine since it launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. Earlier prison recruits were sent for six months and, if they survived, were given full pardons.

But prisoners who sign up for the fight now are being warned that they will likely have to stay on the front lines until the end, according to the BBC.

They can only get a full release if they get a state decoration, become incapacitated, or reach the oldest age for serving in the military, the outlet reported. That, or the war ends.

Prisoners will also no longer get a full pardon, the BBC reported.

Instead, they will get what is called a conditional release. This means that if they are found guilty of committing another crime their new sentence will reflect their older convictions.

A man called Sergei, who posted in an online forum for Russian prisoners fighting in Ukraine, wrote that he has been fighting since October and “If you sign up now, be ready to die,” the BBC reported.

“Before you could wing it for six months. But now, you have to make it until the end of the war,” he said.

Sergei added that he was fighting in a new type of unit called Storm V.

Storm V fighters are serving on the front line, including at Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut, the BBC reported, citing interviews with soldiers and relatives, as well as chatroom messages.

A woman in Russia’s eastern Transbaikal region told the BBC that her husband was recruited from prison into a Storm V unit in late 2023. They had both agreed he should fight so that he could come home faster.

But the contract he signed said that he would fight for a year, rather than six months, and it “will be automatically extended.”

Others who have family members in Storm V units also say their relatives will have to stay until the war is over, the report said.

Russia Wagner Group prisoner convict Bakhmut Ukraine

A former Russian prisoner after being captured by Ukrainian soldiers near Bakhmut on March 12, 2023.SERGEY SHESTAK/AFP via Getty Images

Russia is believed to have recruited over 100,000 prisoners since it launched its invasion.

Prisoners were initially recruited by the Wagner mercenary group, but the group’s access to prisoners was revoked in early 2023, as its feud with Russia’s defense ministry intensified.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence then adopted the strategy itself.

Some of the recruited prisoners were convicted of violent crimes, and some of those pardoned have been accused of crimes since returning to Russia.

Throughout the conflict, experts and captured soldiers have described released prisoners as being used as little more than cannon fodder in Ukraine.

Some Storm V soldiers get just three to five days of training before they are despatched to Ukraine, the BBC reported.

A recruited prisoner wrote on an online chatroom: “Your chances of survival are about 25%. I’ve been a stormtrooper for five months. Out of our platoon of about 100 men, only 38 are still alive,” the report said.

But the sheer number of troops that Russia can send, both regular soldiers and prisoners, is a huge issue for Ukraine, despite its troops being perceived as better trained.

Russia has a notable advantage in troops and ammunition, and its tactics are often to try to simply overwhelm Ukrainian soldiers.

Ukraine says it needs more advanced weaponry from its allies to counter these tactics.

A senior Ukrainian army spokesperson said that Russians “are superior in both equipment and personnel. We need a lot of ammunition to destroy such power and intensity.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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