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Russia and Ukraine Recruiting Female Prisoners

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Both Russia and Ukraine have seen tens of thousands of soldiers die amid this seemingly endless war. Russia has begun seeking new recruits by turning to female inmates and foreigners. The New York Times reported that 30,000 were voluntarily serving Russia’s armed forces at the beginning of the war. Now, Russia is promising a form of freedom to female inmates who agree to join the war effort.

Russia sent military recruiters to female prisons last year. The nation already implemented a program to pardon male inmates in exchange for serving in the war, but this is the first time Russia has called upon women to do the same.  Tens of thousands of men have agreed to join the war in exchange for a pardon. Russia is now offering women a pardon in exchange for only on year of military service and a monthly salary of $2,000, which is over 10 times the nation’s minimum wage.

Now, the New York Times reported that conditions in Russia’s prisons are extremely brutal. Prisoners are expected to remain silent for up to 12 hours per day and are forced to perform physical labor even in the winter climate. Still, the majority of female inmates have opted to remain behind bars rather than fight in the war.

Ukraine needs even more recruits than Russia and plans to mobilize up to 20,000 inmates, but under 5,000 have signed up thus far. Russia has a population of 144 million whereas Ukraine is composed of only 38 million. “There is competition between military commanders to hire (prisoners) since there is a lack of manpower, so they really want to have access to these people,” Justice Minister Denys Maliuska told Reuters. Ukraine has plans for prisoner-only brigades, which one may find concerning. Unlike Russia, Ukraine will not allow prisoners who have committed certain offenses to serve just yet. “They (will be) in the media spotlight, and if there is a single deserter or a single crime, that would be the type of thing in the media that would be bad PR for us,” Maliuska said.


They do this during drafts throughout the world. They offered US prisoners the option to serve in Vietnam, for example, but only men were enticed with that offer. Women are likely to be targeted for military service during the next draft.

Ukrainian women are already forced to sign up for conscription, whereas Russia has not yet called upon its women to serve. Zelensky has simply refused to entertain any peace talks or do the unthinkable and actually honor the Minsk Agreement. The West has just provided Ukraine with another aid package, and it looks as if they will soon provide them a loan with frozen Russian assets. Both sides are desperate for manpower and will need to look beyond their own nations for willing fighters.