The startling revelation came over the weekend after the United Kingdom’s Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace, claimed that despite Russia’s territorial gains in Ukraine, Putin and the Kremlin have suffered a devastating loss of troops since first invading the nation on February 24.
Wallace also revealed that Putin – in an effort to make up for his lost forces – hired a mercenary firm called the Wagner Group to supply fighters.
The Wagner Group is reportedly made up of “mercenaries, convicts and blacklisted individuals” who are essentially guns for hire – although, according to Wallace, the Wagner Group’s forces have also suffered devastating losses on the frontlines of the current Ukraine conflict.
“The fighting has inflicted heavy casualties on the group,” the U.K. Minister of Defense said on Sunday.
“Wagner are lowering recruitment standards, hiring convicts and formerly blacklisted individuals while very limited training is available to new recruits,” Wallace continued.
“This will highly likely impact on the future operational effectiveness of the group and will reduce its value as a prop to the regular Russian forces.”
The new development comes just more than one week after the Wagner Group was caught on video recruiting Russian convicts from a Moscow prison on July 7.
“It was on 7 July 2022 at Colony N1,” a convict, who did not agree to join the fight in Ukraine, told a prison rights group at the time. “Inmates are waiting for a chat with Wagner Group recruiters.”
“About 300 inmates agreed to go,” the prisoner added, while another inmate in the clip can be overheard saying, “F------ hell, so many people.”
In June, shortly after the Russia-Ukraine war reached its 100th day, Russian soldiers complained that they didn’t even have proper toilet paper.
“These conditions are likely a major contributing factor to Russian demoralization and the growing refusal of servicemen to return to frontline units,” the Institute for the Study of War echoed at the time.