Russia Alters Strategy on The Battlefield: It's No Longer Possible

Written by Henrik Rothen

Jan.26 - 2024 10:13 AM CET

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Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
Russia Alters Strategy on The Battlefield.

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Since the onset of Russia's invasion, there have been alarming accounts of incarcerated criminals being sent to war in exchange for pardons, allowing them to walk free upon their return - if they survive the conflict.

These reports include inmates serving time for minor offenses like theft, but also those convicted of heinous murders. Russia is now retracting from this strategy. This is reported by the Russian independent news outlet IStories on Jan. 25.

Initially, these recruits, mostly assigned to the high-casualty Storm Z assault units, were lured with the prospect of freedom post-service. However, as of September 2023, with the formation of the new Storm V units, the terms have drastically altered. Recruits now sign a year-long contract, automatically extended until the end of Russia's "special military operation" in Ukraine.

Relatives of these convicts, via a message in an online group, learned that instead of pardons, recruits are now being released on parole. Pardons are only attainable if the recruits meet specific criteria like receiving military awards, suffering severe injuries, reaching service age limits, or the war's conclusion.

Additionally, IStories has highlighted cases where convicts did not receive promised payments for injuries or full salaries. This new approach, not requiring a presidential signature, spares Russian President Vladimir Putin from negative publicity related to pardoning violent criminals.

The shift raises concerns, as dozens of previously pardoned convicts with histories of violent crimes have returned to Russia, with some accused of committing new offenses. This alteration in Russia's war recruitment strategy marks a significant departure from previous practices and raises questions about the treatment and future of convict recruits.

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