Wagner Group leader calls off prisoner recruitment after ‘suicide squad’ reports

The leader of The Wagner Group – described as the private army of Russian President Vladimir Putin – has revealed that the paramilitary organisation are no longer recruiting prisoners to fight the war in Ukraine.

Yevgeny Prigozhin – a 61-year-old Russian catering tycoon – has been dubbed 'Putin's chef' and currently leads the group of mercenaries and didn't give an explanation why they've stopped the recruiting process.

According to independent Russian media, the reason comes down to reports of convicts being executed discouraging new volunteers to step forward.

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The alleged lack of volunteers joining the 'suicide squad', as some describe the Wagner Group, is damaging optics to Prigozhin who appears to be losing his influence within the Kremlin.

Despite achieving previous successes in the war with the 61-year-old being attributed as the reason Soledar was captured by Russian aligned forces in January.

The capture was significant as it was Russia's first battlefield gain in Ukraine since the summer of 2022.

However, success came far and thin for the Wagner Group leader as despite flooding in masses of Russian prisoners into the city of Bakhmut for six months with basic training, no sign of victory was seen.

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The lack of triumph has led to speculation that Prigozhin could be in danger of being dismissed while Joana de Deus Pereira, senior research fellow at think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), said he's become "much more dangerous".

"Now, Prigozhin has become much more dangerous in terms of the political persona he wants to be," she told Newsweek.

"He sees himself as a defense minister or someone with a high profile inside the Kremlin, at least visible and respectful enough to be rewarded for what he has been doing for the country."


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