Wagner Group says it has stopped recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine

Josh Pennington and Alex Stambaugh

Russia’s Wagner mercenary group says it has stopped recruiting prisoners to fight in Ukraine.

“We have completely discontinued the recruitment of prisoners into Wagner PMC (private military company). Those who work for us now are fulfilling all their obligations,” Wagner boss Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s press service said on Telegram.

CNN could not independently confirm the group’s claims.

Some context: Wagner has recruited tens of thousands of fighters from Russian jails, offering freedom and cash after a six-month tour, with Prigozhin even traveling personally to prisons to recruit convicts.

The group has emerged as a key player in the war, especially in the ongoing fight for the eastern city of Bakhmut.

Ukrainian assessments of Wagner tactics and accounts from defectors suggest the convicts are used as “cannon fodder” — pushed to the front lines in a human wave.

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