The Russian private military company (PMC) Redut, under the control of the Main Directorate of the General Staff (GRU) of the Russian Ministry of Defense, has reportedly started recruiting HIV-positive individuals as mercenaries for the war in Ukraine.
This information comes from the investigative news source "Vazhnye istorii," which indicates a significant shift in recruitment strategies for Russian military operations.
According to social media announcements in Russia, individuals with HIV and hepatitis are being considered for recruitment. The contract terms include a six-month commitment with a salary of 230,000 Russian rubles, and potential for additional bonuses.
The recruitment is said to be modeled on the lines of the 'Umbrella' unit of the Wagner PMC, known for including people with HIV and hepatitis in its ranks.
A journalist, posing as an HIV-positive individual interested in joining the war, contacted the recruiter and was informed that the contract would be with the Redut PMC.
The recruiter stated that volunteers with HIV need to bring their antiretroviral therapy medication, as the PMC would only provide combat-related equipment. Medications, if needed, would have to be purchased in Donetsk, as the PMC does not supply them.
Officially, HIV-infected people and patients with hepatitis are not allowed to sign contracts with the Russian Ministry of Defense. However, this new development suggests a possible relaxation or bypassing of these rules by Russian PMCs.
This recruitment strategy follows previous reports by Ukrainian intelligence last year, which claimed that the Wagner PMC had begun mass recruitment of prisoners for the war in Ukraine, including those suffering from severe infectious diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.
The move to recruit individuals with such health conditions for military operations raises concerns about the welfare of these recruits and the ethical implications of such practices. It also highlights the challenges faced by Russian military forces in sustaining their manpower in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.