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UK intelligence assesses risks of former war prisoners returning to Russia

Wednesday, 26 June 2024, 13:34
UK intelligence assesses risks of former war prisoners returning to Russia
Stock photo: Getty Images

UK Defence Intelligence has assessed the risks for the Russian government associated with the practice of sending prisoners to fight in Ukraine and their return to Russia.

Source: UK Defence Intelligence review dated 18 May, as reported by European Pravda

Quote: "The recruitment of prisoners into the Russian Armed Forces and the implications for Russian communities when they are released is a practice and a risk that the Russian Government is prepared to take to maintain its war in Ukraine."


Details: The analysts noted concerns among several members of the State Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, regarding the return of former prisoners from the war and the associated increase in crime rates, as these individuals typically struggle with social integration.

Russian MPs have discussed the necessity of creating structures to monitor former prisoners who fought in Ukraine. Russia has been recruiting prisoners for the war against Ukraine since at least July 2022, initially led by the Wagner Group and its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Some statements made in the Duma indicated that ex-prisoners sent to fight in Ukraine should remain on the battlefield until the end of the war.

The Russian Prosecutor General's Office stopped publishing crime statistics in January 2023, likely due to the rise in crime associated with the return of ex-prisoners from the conflict zone.


British intelligence cites data from the independent Russian publication Verstka, published in April this year, which reported that at least 107 people have been killed and 100 seriously injured by former prisoners who fought in Ukraine.


  • The UK Defence Ministry noted the first anniversary of the Wagner Group's "March for Justice" in its Russian-Ukrainian war intelligence review dated 24 June.
  • Earlier, the intelligence agency reported that Russia has been increasingly employing the "Volunteer Corps" for offensive actions in the war against Ukraine, which by its very nature is ill-suited to such tasks.

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