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How Desperate is Putin? Russia Starts Sending Female Inmates to Fight in Ukraine

Daniel Kim Views  

Russian President Vladimir Putin. YONHAP NEWS

It has been reported that Russia, struggling with a shortage of troops due to the prolonged war with Ukraine, is releasing female convicts to conscript them into the battlefield. 

The New York Times (NYT) reported on the 10th that Russia released female inmates at the end of May to participate in the battle in Ukraine, citing testimonies from former inmates. It is said that a military recruitment officer recruited several female inmates while visiting a prison on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg. However, it is not yet clear whether this recruitment is a pilot program or a large-scale plan. 

According to related explanations, military recruitment officers have started visiting female prisons and gathering female inmates since the fall of 2023. It is reported that they proposed offering a wage equivalent to ten times the minimum wage in Russia in exchange for serving on the front lines for a year, along with a pardon.

It is not known what roles the female inmates would undertake upon enlistment. There have been reports that female convicts at a prison near Saint Petersburg in 2023 were offered roles as snipers, medics, and radio operators. About 40 inmates reportedly responded to this offer at the time. This is considered a significant departure from the situation where Russian female soldiers have mainly played auxiliary roles. 

This policy of the Russian authorities is interpreted as resorting to unconventional means from the margins of society to attract military enlistment, as not a few people are trying to avoid conscription. The NYT explained, “Russia’s defense ministry and prison service have in the past left unanswered all requests for comment on the country’s prison recruitment program.”

 There are also interpretations that the poor conditions of Russian prisons influenced the enlistment of female inmates. It is reported that inmates are required to maintain silence at all times and engage in forced labor for 12 hours a day in a prison workshop with subzero temperatures in winter.

Russia is not the only one sending inmates to the battlefield. Ukraine is also implementing similar policies. Ukraine has introduced a conditional release system for military service, and about 3,000 inmates have applied for this.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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