Foreign

June 15, 2023

Russia to recruit criminals in war against Ukraine 

Russia to recruit criminals in war against Ukraine 

By Biodun Busari

The Russian army has been given the approval by the lower house of parliament to recruit suspected and convicted criminals to fight Ukraine after it voted on Wednesday.

The vote gave backing to legislation that will allow the Defence Ministry to sign contracts with criminals to join army personnel, according to Reuters.

More than 15 months into what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, Moscow – whose forces have suffered heavy losses is planning to hire more soldiers for what is Europe’s largest land war since World War Two.

Under the proposed changes, a deal could be finalised with someone being investigated for committing a crime, who is having their case heard in court or after they have been convicted but before the verdict takes legal effect, according to the database of the State Duma, the lower house.

However, Reuters people convicted of sexual crimes, treason, terrorism or extremism would not be able to sign up.

Those who do sign up would be exempt from criminal liability upon completion of their contract or if they receive awards for their combat prowess.

The Wagner mercenary group was previously allowed to recruit convicts from prisons to fight in Ukraine but said in February it had stopped. Prison rights activists said the Defence Ministry has taken over the process but wanted to make changes.

The new changes being examined by the Duma do not cover recruitment of people already serving their sentences and the Defence Ministry has not commented.