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Putin Is Emptying the Jails For Soldiers to Fight and Die in Ukraine

Ukrainian tank test firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Ukrainian tank test firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Ukraine War Update: The fighting in the east and the Donbas continues in earnest on the 324th day of the war in Ukraine

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Meanwhile, as the manpower situation in Russia is getting worse, the Kremlin has to rely increasingly rely on convicts to support its defense and aerospace industry. 

More than ten months into the conflict, and Ukraine continues to have the upper hand. However, soon both sides will have to go on the offensive once more as the fighting season approaches. What they achieve will determine when the war will end.

The Russian Casualties in Ukraine

The Russian military continues to suffer horrendous losses on the ground in Ukraine. In the first couple of weeks of the new year, Moscow has lost more than 8,000 troops on the ground, as well as hundreds of tanks, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery pieces, and other weapon systems. 

To make the life of the Russian forces on the frontline more difficult, Moscow is running out of ammunition. In places like Bakhmut, the lack of ammunition, especially artillery rounds, is making offensive operations more difficult and is allowing the Ukrainian forces to defend better. 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Friday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 114,130 Russian troops (and wounded approximately twice to thrice that number), destroyed 286 fighter, attack, bomber, and transport jets, 275 attack and transport helicopters, 3,098 tanks, 2,086 artillery pieces, 6,167 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 437 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,833 vehicles and fuel tanks, 218 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,865 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 184 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 723 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses. 

Convict Labor 

In a move reminiscent of Nazi Germany, Russia is using convicts to work in its defense and aerospace industries. 

According to the British Military Intelligence, Moscow “is highly likely resorting to using convict labour” in an attempt to meet the increased demands of a country at war.

In specific, Russia’s largest tank manufacturer announced in November that it would be employing 250 inmates to work in its production factories after getting the green light from the government. 

With more than 400,000 inmates, Russia has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world. The Russian Federal Penal Service has tried to lessen that number by agreeing to allow the infamous Wanger Group mercenary group to recruit inmates to fight in Ukraine from its prisons.

“The prison population provides a unique human resource to Russian leaders to utilise in support of the ‘special military operation’ while willing volunteers remain in short supply,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

To be sure, using inmates for forced labor isn’t novel in Russia. There is a long custom of using prisoners for the benefit of the state.

However, six years ago, the Kremlin introduced a law that allows forced labor as a specific punishment.

“Convict labour will likely be particularly in demand from manufacturers of relatively low-tech weaponry such as UVZ, which are almost certainly under intense pressure from Moscow to increase their production,” the British Military Intelligence added. 

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.