Convicts were called up to fight the war in Ukraine for Russian President Vladimir Putin, and now the autocratic leader has acknowledged that killed convicts have “redeemed themselves."
In the initial stages of the war, reports indicated individuals with criminal backgrounds, ranging from serial killers and murderers to rapists, had enlisted in Putin's army with hopes of securing their freedom, the Daily Star reported.
The majority of the criminal conscripts aligned themselves with the notorious Wagner mercenary group, while a few also enlisted in Russia's official military ranks.
The convicts were recruited to help keep the fighter numbers high for Russia, even as the number of casualties rose. The death toll, however, continued skyrocketing, with many of the new deaths attributed to the untrained former convicts struggling in battle, according to the Daily Star.
During a Sept. 29 meeting with officials, Putin stated that these dead convicts now have been “redeemed.”
“They are dead — everyone can make some mistakes, they once did," Putin reportedly said. "But they gave their lives for the Motherland, and fully redeemed themselves."
Putin then observed a moment of silence to honor the deceased — including the former prisoners.
The official death toll for Russia is still unknown, but anti-Kremlin media outlet Meduza recently reported that it could be around 55,000 killed in action, according to the Daily Star.
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In addition, Meduza stated around 70,000 men were so badly injured in the war that they are unable to return to the front line.
A spokesman for Meduza said, “In 15 months of fighting (from February 24, 2022, to late May 2023), three times more Russian soldiers died in Ukraine than Soviet troops over 10 years of war in Afghanistan,” the Daily Star reported.
Russia last released official numbers on Sept. 21, 2022, and claimed only 5,937 soldiers had been killed in action.
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