Russia's notorious mercenary firm The Wagner Group has launched a second major recruitment drive in prisons to persuade murderers and sex offenders to sign up for combat.
The Mirror has reported that Wagner boss Yevgeny Prigozhin is trying to persuade inmates to join up to Vladimir Putin's fight against Ukraine in return for a Kremlin pardon.
Those who do, will join around 50,000 mercenaries, who have been dubbed Putin’s Private Army, and have an appalling frontline survival rate.
READ MORE: Evil Wagner Group murderer who spent 19 years in jail dies fighting for Russia in Ukraine
Within weeks of Prigozhin’s first recruitment drive, more than 1,000 Wagner fighters have been killed in Ukraine, with Russia's military death toll in the war now reaching a suspected 102,600.
The Wagner Group has a track record in conflict zones such as Syria and Libya for committing war crimes against civilians such as sex attacks, looting and murder, and the rise in their combatants increases fears that more atrocities will be committed in Ukraine.
A Western security source said: “Increasingly Russia’s military machine is being depleted and the country it serves is going rogue with Wagner Group commanding in parts.
“Putin seems to have abandoned using Wagner fighters to distance the Kremlin from their horrific behaviour and they are becoming an integral part of his war machine.
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“The fact that Prigozhin is now returning to jails he has recruited from previously means Russia commanders are becoming desperate for bodies to throw into the Ukraine war.”
Prigozhin, who served nine years behind bars for a number of gangster-related crimes, warns prisoners they will be executed if they threaten to desert.
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