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Ran out of prisoners: UK intel explains recruitment of Africans to Russian army

Ran out of prisoners: UK intel explains recruitment of Africans to Russian army
Author: Maria Kholina

Russia has intensified the recruitment of prisoners from countries in the Global South, as the domestic prisoner resource has been exhausted, and conducting a mobilization is risky for Putin, citing the UK Ministry of Defence.

According to the briefing, on May 28, the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine reported that Russia has ramped up efforts to recruit Africans to participate in the fighting in Ukraine.

These recruitment efforts are particularly focused on the Central African countries of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo, and Uganda. Russia is reportedly offering a registration bonus of $2,000, a monthly salary of $2,200, and the promise of obtaining a Russian passport.

According to British intelligence, this recruitment campaign is intended to compensate for the significant losses of the Russian army on the battlefield and to sustain offensive activities on several fronts. As the limited pool of prisoners available for recruitment in Russia has been exhausted, Russia is likely expanding recruitment to the Global South to avoid additional mobilization within Russia.

"The previous mobilisation for the war resulted in a record labour shortage and an exodus of skilled workers such as doctors and IT professionals," says the UK Ministry of Defence.

Earlier, British intelligence reported that the total number of Russian casualties (killed and wounded) since the beginning of the war against Ukraine has reached 500,000 people. In 2024, the losses remained high, and in May, the average losses among Russian personnel exceeded 1,200 people per day – the highest rate since the start of the war.

According to the Levada Center, over the past year, the proportion of those expecting a second wave of mobilization has decreased. It is believed that it may be announced within the next three months, with 48% of Russian residents anticipating this.