Wagner PMC Facing Increasing Resistance To Efforts To Recruit Russian Criminals For Fight In Ukraine – OpEd
By Paul Goble
When Yevgeny Prigozhin and his Wagner PMC sought to recruit Russians in prisons and camps to fight in Ukraine using promises of high pay and pardons to attract volunteers, they enjoyed significant success. But now, he and his group are facing ever more resistance, Anna Pavlova of the Zona.Media portal says.
The reasons are three-fold: first, stories are coming back that many who volunteered earlier have died in the fighting; second, Prigozhin has turned the effort over to subordinates who lack his influence; and third, prison officials aren’t entirely happy about losing men who have been working in prison industries (zona.media/article/2023/02/06/verbovka).
To try to overcome this resistance, Kremlin media have been filled with stories about those prisoners who have made in through the war unscathed and been pardoned; but Pavlova reports, ever more prisoners have concluded that these are specially selected cases and don’t believe that if they volunteer, they are likely to survive and benefit.
There are no statistics on the numbers of those resisting, of course; but the journalist provides numerous examples and also reports about the judgment of many prisoners that they may not be happy behind bars but they are at least alive –and also know from bitter experience that they have no good reason to trust the powers that be.
Consequently, it appears that this additional source of men for the PMC is drying up, something that may lessen the Wagner PMC’s ability to engage in combat operations and also not insignificantly reduce the influence of Prigozhin in Moscow, however much the Kremlin may try to boost it.