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Prisoners in the Russian army: the Kremlin hits rock bottom by sending murderers and rapists to fight in Ukraine

Russian prisoners are sent to the war in Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images

Russian prisoners are sent to the war in Ukraine. Photo: Getty Images

Russia’s "special operation" is still going "according to plan": first, they’ve sent the Machine Gun Artillery Division from Iturup Island, actually the personnel of the Kuril fortified district, to the frontline. This garrison has never been involved in any conflict before, be it Afghanistan, Chechnya, or Syria.

Then, they created combined navy battalions, where ship crews were extensively used as line infantry. One of the recently taken POWs was a torpedoman retrained to operate a tank in a week and a half — unexpectedly, he crushed his vehicle and got burnt, but was lucky enough to be taken to a prisoner-of-war camp where he happily eats his borscht now.

There was also a brilliant idea to recruit light infantry battalions in ethnic republics.

Obviously, since contract soldiers didn’t succeed in a war despite having been trained for years, it’s 45-year-old Tatars and Dagestanis, yesterday’s warehouse operators and grocery store cashiers who haven’t held a gun in their hands for the last 20 years, that are certain to take Kyiv in three days.

And finally, the Russians hit rock bottom — they started recruiting prisoners.


The recruitment of convicts reiterates WWII history

Russian social media exploded with questions from "Russian world" fans: experts in the convict code wonder whether it’s acceptable for a lower-caste serviceman to provide first aid to his higher-caste comrade, or should a respectable con make a hole in his spoon so that he doesn’t compromise his status by accidentally taking a spoon belonging to a person who’s considered a pariah under the unwritten prison code.

The Russians have excellently proved their "can repeat" bravado after years of posing with babies proudly dressed in their victorious grandparents’ side caps.

This reminds us of the infamous "Bitch Wars" of the 1950s, when 900,000 inmates who fought in World War II were harrassed in prisons after they saved their glorious Soviet Motherland by breaking the Convict Code, which prohibits any collaboration with authorities.

Whole prison camps engaged in killing each other with makeshift shivs, and whole prisoner transports refused to share barracks with their opponents, knowing that it would mean certain death.

It was a proud and glorious page in the superpower’s modern history.

Murderers and rapists going to fight in Ukraine

So now in 2022, Yevgeny Prigozhin, his body covered with "partaks" (low-quality tattoos typically made in prison — The Page), promises convicts that a six-month contract served on the frontline, on condition of no deserting, no drugs, and no rapes, will buy them freedom. Imagine how wonderful a Russian soldier would feel surrounded by penal units!

We had two blocking platoons of Kadyrov battalions, seventy-five Tatar, Buryat, and Bashkir units, five packs of resignation tenders due to low morale, a salt shaker half full of cocaine for Maria Zakharova, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored clemency petitions. Not that we needed all that for the so-called "special military operation", which is going "according to plan", but once you get to repeat your grandfathers’ feat of arms, the tendency is to push it as far as you can.

There’s a draft of a new Russian Penal Code that defines punishment for voluntary surrender (art. 352.1, up to 10 years in prison). We’ve already seen this in our modern history: you either atone for your guilt with blood or get in jail as a public enemy.

We could further make fun of this all, if not for the fact that those convicted of cannibalism, murder, and rape will be given weapons and sent into our occupied territories. The numbers are considerable: up to 6 thousand convicts from forty prison camps. It’s cheap (they were promised 100,000 rubles, three times less than ordinary soldiers), they’re not accounted for as KIAs, and no large death gratuities are paid.

That’s the famous Russian wit!

Why the Russians need the prisoners

Such a recruitment campaign probably meets resistance within the system, as regular officers aren’t likely to appreciate being treated as completely worthless so that prisoners are recruited to do their job; it’s also obvious that PMCs are gaining the upper hand to spite security agencies. Hence the leaked record with Prigozhin, who hardly wanted to star as a prison recruitment agent.

The reasons for these developments are obvious. The losses are increasing since no manpower resource would sustain the extensive use of PMCs, from hostilities in Libya to the assaults on Popasna. Whatever the motivation or compensation, a Turkish bomb or Ukrainian shell doesn’t care.

Combined arms assault operations, like the months-long storming of residential areas in Tripoli or the assault on Bakhmut, lead to humongous casualties.

The Kremlin regime cannot replenish its troops with march battalions like their grandfathers did. The villages are no longer a source of unlimited manpower resources like they were three generations ago, when everyone was in sight — a man could go out in the field and get mobilized immediately. Today, Russian villagers take to drink or escape to cities, and everyone eager to earn 300,000 rubles and a Lada has already enlisted.

About a third of the Russians in the cities are involved in the shadow job market, one way or another, which accounts for 25 million of the working population.

They live in places like the Moscow suburbs, go to work at construction sites by commuter rail, deliver food or cash, provide services at home, assemble furniture, or work as tutors. For recruitment centers they are invisible, since no one of them registers, the BARS Special Combat Army Reserve is a vanishing fraction of a percent, and the most recent mobilization was carried out during the Afghanistan war.

What if they just grab people in the streets like they do in the self-proclaimed "Luhansk People’s Republic? It will result in a plethora of objectors, self-injuries, protest sentiments, and problems with business. And, adding insult to injury, they’ll lose face since their raised eyebrow wouldn’t make the Ukrainians flee, as their propagandists claimed.

Why Russia struggles with mobilization

Any mobilization would stretch for half a year: it requires training, taking equipment out of stock, and preparing warm garments. While Ukraine receives winter uniforms from Denmark, Canada, and Finland, the great Russian people have to care for themselves. And not only fighters are needed, but logistics specialists, personnel for maintenance battalions and field hospitals, and officers for recruitment centers. Thousands of medics, technicians, and mobilization specialists.

Furthermore, such a large-scale deployment requires appropriate amounts of spare parts, medications, fuel, air medical services, beds in hospitals, and permanent bases deployed in the theater of war, not in Cyberia. Will prisoners and motorized infantry battalions be enough to achieve this? No.

Military economics is also a must. The Russians would have to get up from their sofas, as simply hating Ukrainians while sitting in their warm apartments with the Internet won’t do. And what’s more, they need people now, not in half a year, since the Ukrainian offensive is already ongoing.

What should they die for? The "denazification" and prospective annexation of Donetsk? For half of Russia, Chinese resorts are closer than Donetsk. Meanwhile, so far, no Russian POW could clearly explain what "denazification" was.

Russia has already lost the war

The Kremlin regime is trying to prolong its death struggle, although they understand perfectly well that the war they planned was lost from the moment of the "goodwill gesture" near Kyiv, Sumy, and Chernihiv.

Only the old man in the bunker, whose awareness of the real state of affairs is doubtful, knows how much blood must be shed before the last Russian vatnik understands this.

Most Russian residents under 40 don’t support the war in Ukraine. It’s they who will become poorer, lose health, and die for the "Donetsk Federal District". Most people aged 45+ support the war because they can be proud of it while staying on their sofas. Those who are dying drag those who are living to the grave for the sake of their dreams of greatness. No prisoners would suffice to bridge this gap. However, they’ve managed to repeat history. All the way down.

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