Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

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Non-public army contractor Wagner should search for new fighters past Russia’s jail system, a fertile recruiting floor for the previous 9 months, in line with its boss Yevgeny Prigozhin.

Prigozhin mentioned on his firm’s Telegram channel Thursday: “We’ve got fully discontinued the recruitment of prisoners into Wagner PMC. Those that work for us now are fulfilling all their obligations.”

The Russian oligarch didn’t give any motive for the choice, however there are a number of believable explanations for the change of tack. The pool of recruits might have dwindled, the Ministry of Protection might have intervened, or the operation might have stretched Prigozhin’s funds. Alternatively, Prigozhin might have been advised that his means of conflict not suits Russian priorities on the battlefield.

After signing up between 40,000 and 50,000 prisoners from jails throughout Russia, the variety of volunteers from jail might have shrunk to date that the marketing campaign is not delivering.

Figures simply launched by the Russian Penitentiary Service might assist that. They confirmed that the jail inhabitants decreased by 6,000 between November and January, in comparison with a drop of 23,000 inmates between September and October final 12 months.

Captured fighters: This week CNN spoke with two Wagner fighters who had been recruited from Russian prisons and fought on the entrance strains in Ukraine earlier than being captured.

They mentioned that dozens of prisoners, some with simply weeks left of their sentences, had signed up after visits from Prigozhin in August and September. They mentioned he had arrived at their prisons in a helicopter and made daring guarantees about wages and different advantages, in addition to a pledge that their prison information can be expunged.

CNN couldn’t independently affirm the claims. The interviews had been carried out within the presence of Ukrainian safety officers however the captured fighters spoke at size about their Wagner experiences. (CNN advised the prisoners that they had been free to cease the interview at any time. CNN will not be revealing their identities.)

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