Russian President Vladimir Putin is reportedly recruiting prisoners as soldiers to fight in the Russia-Ukraine war as a way of avoiding a potentially-unpopular draft, as Russian contract soldiers are allegedly imprisoned in occupied Ukraine on Thursday for refusing to fight. 

Western analysts claim that Putin’s government is recruiting mainly from the rural areas where opposition is not strong against the Russian dictator, as well as conscripting from prisons as a way of replacing as many as 75,000 dead and injured soldiers that are needed to continue their assault and invasion of Ukraine, according to the Independent

“We do think that they have recruited from prisons and they are obviously also working with private military companies to increase their resourcing levels,” a Western official said. 

It is also believed that Russia is hiring a lot of private contractors to fight the war in Ukraine, as they struggle to replace the experienced soldiers who were killed or injured by the invasion as well as a lack of proper equipment to replace those that have been broken through by the Ukrainian army. 

“Russia has changed the way it’s fighting to adapt to the reduction of personnel – and skilled personnel,” one official said. “They’re fighting in smaller formations, at company level rather than battalion or brigade level. And that makes it easier for them to operate in some regards, but it also limits the amount of progress they can make.”

In the meantime, in the Russian-occupied portions of Ukraine, many contract soldiers who joined the army on a temporary basis to earn a living are reportedly being imprisoned and prevented from returning to Russia, with them being gathered in a former penal colony as their families beg the government to allow them to return home, Deutsche Welles reported. 

The soldiers, who were told of the invasion only at the last minute, are reportedly being tortured in the camps as the Russian government refused to return them to their homes but also refuses to allow them to continue to fight. 

Some of these soldiers who are able to escape that situation are reportedly largely forced to return to the frontlines: “At first, the soldiers had said they would definitely not return to the war and would not sign anything. But suddenly, we learned that they are going back to the frontline, without receiving any notification.”

Many are angered at the treatment of the soldiers, claiming not only a human rights violation but also a violation of Russian law. 

“This is a serious breach of Russian law; soldiers cannot be arrested and detained without a trial,” journalist Sergei Krivenko said. “Only Russian courts on Russian soil can hand down such rulings.”

simon-infanger-HqxTyD78f58-unsplash Russia is reportedly using prisoners and recruits from rural areas to bolster their numbers, as they allegedly imprison and torture Russian soldiers in Ukraine who are refusing to fight. This is a representational image. Simon Infanger/Unsplash.