In a recent report, it has come to light that Russia is offering a substantial amount of money to prisoners who agree to fight in Ukraine.
These prisoners can receive up to $2,000 per month, and there’s a promise of $31,000 if they get injured while in combat.
This tactic is reminiscent of the now-inactive Wagner Group’s recruitment strategy.
However, it’s important to note that these fighters, known as “Storm-Z” units, are being sent into extremely dangerous situations with minimal preparation.
According to a soldier who was formerly incarcerated and has become a fighter, they had little warning about the harshness of the combat they would face.
The soldier, speaking to a US-funded news outlet called Sever Realii, shared that he was initially attracted by the promise of a comfortable situation and substantial financial rewards.
In addition to the monthly pay and injury compensation, families of soldiers who are killed are promised a $52,000 payout.
To put these figures into context, the average monthly salary for most Russians is estimated to be around $750.
However, the soldier emphasized that the recruitment pitch didn’t make it clear that they would be thrust into a perilous situation.
According to the UK’s Ministry of Defence, “Storm-Z” battalions were originally intended to be elite forces but have been filled with Russia’s worst soldiers, including convicts and regular soldiers facing punishment.
These units are considered a “lowest priority” for logistical and medical support.
Reports indicate that most “Storm-Z” units are comprised of convict soldiers or soldiers reassigned to these units as a form of punishment.
Due to issues like poor morale and discipline, experts believe that these groups may not be highly effective in combat.
It’s worth noting that Russia appears to be releasing prisoners to bolster its military forces, a strategy similar to what the private Wagner Group militia used in the past.
In April, the UK’s Ministry of Defence estimated that over 10,000 individuals had been recruited into the Russian army using this method. Furthermore, it’s reported that the Russian prison population has significantly decreased since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
An estimate suggests that Russia has recruited approximately 100,000 people into its formal army, in addition to sending around 50,000 former convicts to war with the Wagner Group.