Published On: Wed, May 8th, 2024
World | 2,396 views

Ukraine follows Putin’s suit to send convicts to war | World | News


In a move echoing tactics employed by Russia, the Ukrainian parliament has passed a bill allowing convicts to volunteer for military service in the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia.

The legislation passed on Wednesday, aims to bolster troop numbers but excludes individuals convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, terrorism, drug dealing, and treason.

Under the terms of the bill, convicts may opt for conditional early release in exchange for military service, subject to approval by local courts.

They will only return to prison if they commit another offence before the end of their service, which lasts until Kyiv declares demobilisation.

The exclusion of certain high-ranking officials and MPs from benefiting from the law’s provisions follows pressure from civil society groups. However, concerns remain regarding the inclusion of corrupt officials not covered by the legislation, potentially undermining previous anti-corruption efforts.

The decision to allow convicts to serve in the military mirrors tactics employed by Russia‘s Wagner Group, a mercenary force that also offers reduced jail terms for military service. This practice, initiated by Wagner and now apparently adopted by the Russian defence ministry, has led to the formation of army units colloquially known as Storm-Z, derived from the Russian word “zek”, meaning “inmate”.

These units, treated as expendable forces, were reportedly deployed with little regard for the safety of their personnel.

Wagner’s recruitment of convicts gained attention in 2022 when its leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin, dubbed “Putin’s chef,” promised prisoners release and expungement of their convictions after six months of service in Ukraine.

However, Prigozhin’s criticism of Russian military leadership and subsequent demise in a plane crash in 2023 highlighted internal strife within Wagner.

Ukraine‘s adoption of similar tactics underscores the desperate need for recruits following delays in declaring mobilisation.

The parliament hopes to enlist up to 10,000 convicts through this regulated, voluntary process, pending approval from President Volodymyr Zelensky.



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