Staunton, Mar. 13 – Olga Romanova, head of the Russia Behind Bars organization, confirms what Ukrainian military sources have been reporting since the end of last year: women prisoners in Russia are being sent to Ukraine to fill the depleted ranks of both the Wagner PMC and the Russian regular army.
She says that she has been hearing about such things since the end of 2022 but now has additional evidence in the form of sightings of special trains carrying women from prisons and prison camps in the southern parts of the Russian Federation to Ukraine (storage.googleapis.com/istories/news/2023/03/13/rossiya-svozit-v-donetskuyu-oblast-zaklyuchennikh-zhenshchin-chtobi-potom-otpravit-ikh-na-front/index.html).
Until the Wagner PMC announced a month ago that it would no longer recruit prisoners, it and not the Russian regular army appears to have been the primary recruiter of women for service in Ukraine. Now, it appears that the practice of using women prisoners has not ended but simply shifted to regular Russian military units (cf. understandingwar.org/backgrounder/russian-offensive-campaign-assessment-march-12-2023).
Such use of women prisoners is yet another indication that Moscow is confronted with massive losses and is prepared to use almost all measures to find additional troops without announcing a general mobilization that could easily trigger anti-government actions across the country.