Vladimir Putin has been on the defensive lately, which is ironic, considering that he put himself in this position by invading Ukraine for what he now says is some secret reason. The Russian president has also been forced to present high-heeled proof of life, and his choice to use the controversial Wagner group of mercenaries is increasingly under fire. Much of that rationale comes because Putin’s troops are dying by the thousands, which has led him to a series of drafts (some numbering into the hundreds of thousands) in order to beef up numbers on the front lines and in munitions factories.
As well, Putin has been plagued by Russian saboteurs who are blowing up train tracks to ensure that supplies aren’t delivered. The mess has been further compounded by criticism of Putin using the controversial Wagner Group of mercenaries to supplement his own troops, and now, CNN reports that Putin is staffing those military factories with convict recruits. They’re being promised pensions and for their families to be taken care of and everything. That bit of news can be found courtesy of CNN and Andrei Soldatov, and here’s more from the Financial Times with word from the Kremlin:
Russian president Vladimir Putin is pardoning convicts to allow them to fight in Ukraine as members of the Wagner paramilitary group, the Kremlin has admitted.
Russia also dismissed the US Treasury’s move to label Yevgeny Prigozhin’s group, which is playing an increasingly prominent role on the front lines as Putin’s full-scale invasion enters its 12th month, as a “transnational criminal organisation”.
It remains to be seen whether Putin will follow these admissions up with more insistence that he’s winning key territories in Ukraine, even as Kyiv keeps calling bullsh*t on these claims. Yes, he probably will keep on lying, including to those convict recruits.
(Via CNN & Financial Times)