Wagner Group Stops Recruiting Russian Convicts

The infamous Russian mercenary group Wagner has stopped recruiting convicts for its operations in Ukraine, the leader of the group announced on social media.

Ukraine MercenariesYevgeny Prigozhin said his Wagner Group doesn't recruit Russian convicts anymore. (Photo: manhhai, Flickr, License)Answering an online media query through his Press Service on Telegram and VK channels, Wagner’s boss Yevgeny Prigozhin confirmed that “the recruitment of prisoners by PMC Wagner completely stopped.”

The recruitment was reportedly ceased more than a month ago.

“To those who work for us now, all obligations are being fulfilled,” he added, referring to ex-convicts who joined Wagner to support Russian troops fighting in Ukraine, in exchange for amnesty and some cash in case they survive a six-months-shift.

According to the U.K. Ministry of Defence, “Wagner almost certainly now commands up to 50,000 fighters in Ukraine and has become a key component of the Ukraine campaign.”

“The registration likely aims to maximize Prigozhin’s commercial gain and to further legitimize the increasingly high-profile organization,” the Ministry warned.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, a restaurant and catering mogul known as “Putin’s Chef” and a personal friend of Russian president Vladimir Putin, publicly confirmed in September last year that he has founded the Wagner group.

The organization gained notoriety during the first Russian invasion of Ukraine, when it aided separatist soldiers of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics from 2014 to 2015.

The Wagner Group mercenaries, also known as Putin’s Army, are alleged to be involved in numerous atrocities, in Libya, the Central African Republic, Syria, and Mali.

Prigozhin is also known for sponsoring the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a troll farm infamous for spreading disinformation worldwide. The Wagner Group is also tasked with disseminating disinformation on behalf of the Kremlin, in addition to fighting alongside Russian government forces.