Russian Defense Ministry starts recruiting female prisoners for war in Ukraine

The Russian Ministry of Defence is reportedly recruiting convicted women from Correctional Colony No. 2 in the Leningrad Region to fight in the war in Ukraine, reports the investigative news outlet "Vazhnye Istorii" (Important Stories), citing accounts from former inmates of the Ulyanovka settlement facility.

Journalists explained that their sources acquired information from friends still detained at the colony. The names of two women who agreed to participate in the conflict have been confirmed by their relatives.

Since the autumn of 2023, representatives from the Russian Ministry of Defence have visited the colony multiple times. They offered the Russian women one-year contracts, specifically looking for new snipers and assault troops. The women were offered two months of training before deployment, with the potential for pardon at the end of their service.

Between 20 to 50 women reportedly accepted these terms, but they remain in the penal colony for now. One of the inmates decided to undergo sniper training but withdrew after around three months of waiting, as she initially believed she would swiftly be sent to the front lines. Now, with less than a year remaining to serve, she remains in detention.

As journalists reported, one of the women attempted to dissuade her acquaintances during a phone call. She warned that even men do not survive under artillery fire, as many of the recruited tend to be used as "cannon fodder." Despite this, the prospect of a pardon seems to be an urgent incentive for the women.

Russian human rights advocate Olga Romanova reported last year in January that the Wagner Group, a private military company, began recruiting female prisoners in Russian jails.

  War in Ukraine, Russia