Vladimir Putin is sending women convicts to the war in Ukraine, according to two separate sources. Russia is fighting a desperate battle in eastern Ukraine with the UK’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) saying its troops are rapidly running out of ammunition and has already been sending male prisoners to fight with the Wagner Group, the army of mercenaries founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin.
A statement issued by Ukraine’s army general staff yesterday said: “Last week, there was a train with second-class sleeping carriages to transport prisoners to the Donetsk region (in Eastern Ukraine).
“One of the carriages was with convicted women.”
Olga Romanova, founder of the Moscow-based prisoner rights group Russia Behind Bars, corroborated the claims, telling the investigative news site Important Stories: “Women were taken from the colonies of southern Russia.”
She estimated that 100 women had been recruited, although the roles which they will play have not been specified.
Russia Behind Bars has previously reported the widespread recruitment of prisoners by Wagner while in September, a leaked video showed Prigozhin vowing to free convicts in exchange for serving six-month terms in Ukraine.
He has also said active efforts to recruit female prisoners were ongoing, explaining via the Telegram messaging service: “We are working in this direction.
“There is resistance, but we will press on,” he said on Telegram in December.
Women could be deployed in “sabotage groups and sniper pairs”, he claimed.
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Speaking to the i newspaper, Sofia, a member of the Feminist Anti-war Resistance (FAR) network who gave only her first name for security reasons, said: “Female prisoners are one of the most marginalized communities in Russia, so it was just a matter of time before they would be forced to participate in the war,
“At the moment it is not clear what they are forced to do.
“Are they going to be fighting on the front line alongside male recruits?”
In its tweeted bulletin earlier today, the MoD offered an insight into Russia’s struggle to gain a foothold in the east, despite Prigozhin claiming to have the city of Bakhmut almost completely surrounded.
It explained: “In recent weeks, Russian artillery ammunition shortages have likely worsened to the extent that extremely punitive shell-rationing is in force on many parts of the front.
“This has almost certainly been a key reason why no Russian formation has recently been able to generate operationally significant offensive action.”
Consequently Russia had almost certainly already resorted to issuing old ammunition stock which were previously categorized as “unfit for use”, the MoD explained.
It added: “A presidential decree of 03 March 2023 laid down measures for the Ministry of Trade and Industry to bypass the authority of the managers of defense industries who fail to meet their production goals.
“Russia is increasingly applying the principles of a command economy to its military industrial complex because it recognizes that its defense manufacturing capacity is a key vulnerability in the increasingly attritional ‘special military operation.’
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