Russian President Vladimir Putin has tapped into a new faction of military recruits for his country's ongoing war with Ukraine.
According to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Putin recently signed a law allowing the "military mobilization" of Russians who have committed serious crimes.
In other words, the Kremlin now has the authority to pluck convicted murderers and other violent criminals out of prisons, and subsequently place them into battle positions against Ukrainian troops.
On Friday, while speaking to members of youth and volunteer organizations in Moscow, Putin relayed that approximately 318,000 men have recently joined the fight against Ukraine — including 18,000 volunteers.
Putin also discussed how the mobilization legislation now includes people with unsealed criminal records — "including those who committed serious crimes, excluding those convicted of child sex abuse, treason, spying," or even terrorism, according to reports.
"As far as I know, 49,000 of those mobilized are already carrying out combat tasks, while the others are undergoing training," said Putin, while addressing the crowd.
According to Radio Free Europe, Russia's military setbacks in recent weeks have heightened the urgency to replenish the country's troops in Ukraine.
There are also reports of the Kremlin instituting a military draft, which would "increasingly rely on mercenaries and Chechen troops" to fortify Russia's military effort.
As Newsmax chronicled in mid-September, the British Ministry of Defense initially warned U.S. officials that Russia would explore alternative means for replenishing its troops — including the mobilization of violent criminals.
Among the steps Russia planned to execute:
- Wagner Group, a Kremlin-linked Russian private military company, has been conducting a campaign to recruit Russian convicts for service in Ukraine. Prisoners have been offered commutation of their sentences, "as well as cash incentives."
- There's a BBC-verified video of Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin making a recruiting pitch to prisoners. Prigozhin emphasized he's seeking "fighters for assault units."
- Russian military academies would shorten the graduation timelines of cadets, so they'll be ready for battle in Ukraine at an earlier juncture.
- Russia's manpower challenge has become "increasingly severe." The acceleration of the cadet officers' training, and Wagner's demand for assault troops, suggest "two of the most critical shortages within the military manning crisis are probably combat infantry and junior commanders."
In anticipation of President Putin signing the mobilization bill, "tens of thousands" of Russian men reportedly fled the country — likely as an attempt to avoid military service.
Also, Radio Free Europe reports that roughly 2,000 soldiers mobilized from Russia's Republic of Chuvashia were recently allowed to visit home after they rebelled against the Kremlin, "demanding overdue payments" for their military service.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.