A Ukrainian serviceman holds his weapon on the front lines near Bakhmut in Donetsk, Ukraine, December 4, 2022. (Narciso Contreras/Getty Images)

  • Captured members of a Russian mercenary group say disobedient troops and deserters are being publicly executed in Ukraine.
  • The infamous Wagner Group has recruited prisoners to fight on the front lines.
  • One captured former inmate described many of the recruited prisoners as “completely insane.”
  • For more stories, go to www.businessinsider.co.za,

Captured Russian inmates who have been sent to the front lines in Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group, an infamous mercenary organization with ties to the Kremlin, say they’ve witnessed public executions of deserters and disobedient troops, per a new report from Polygon Media and the independent Mozhem Obyasnit outlet.

“Those who disobey are eliminated — and it’s done publicly,” Yevgeny Novikov, a former inmate who was recruited by the mercenary group said, according to a translation of the report. From the Daily Beast.

Novikov said there are “squadrons of liquidators” that deal with troops considered to be problematic.

In one instance, Novikov reportedly recalled, “shelling began, one of the prisoners laid down and didn’t cover his own [men], The shelling stopped, he went back, and the higher-up shouted to him: ‘Why didn’t you go forward?’ And they killed him. The higher-up is killed if his team deserts.”

Alexander Drozdov, another former inmate cited in the report, said many of the Russian prisoners sent to the front line in Ukraine by Wagner are drug addicts and “completely insane.” While some recruited prisoners may desert or disobey orders, others “are just fucked up and bulldoze their way through,” Drozdov said, noting that these fighters “are very different from ordinary mercenaries.” The first batch of prisoners to survive six months of fighting in Ukraine was recently released back into Russiawith the head of the mercenary group celebrating them as heroes deserving of great respect while also advising them not to drink too much, do drugs, rape women, or kill.

The Russian military has suffered staggering losses since Moscow launched an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last February. In an effort to address worsening manpower issues, the Wagner Group has fought alongside the Russian military and has recruited Russian prisoners in the process.

Last month, a top Ukrainian military advisor said that Russian prisoners fighting with Wagner were being shoved to the front line and “killed in large quantities.”

A senior US military official told reporters on Monday that prisoners and other recently mobilized troops are being used by Russia to “take the brunt” of Ukrainian fire on the front line to clear a path for “better trained forces” amid heavy fighting in the country’s east.

Russian forces have been pushing hard to take the city of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region and have managed to make some advances into the nearby town of Soledar in recent days, according to assessments from the US military and British defense ministry.

Yevgeny Prigozhin, the founder of the Wagner Group and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Tuesday there are “heavy bloody battles” being fought over Soledar, per the Moscow Times. “On the western outskirts of Soledar there are heavy bloody battles. The Armed Forces of Ukraine are honorably defending the territory of Soledar,” Prigozhin said.

In his nightly address on Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky painted a grim picture of the situation in the city.

“Everything is completely destroyed, there is almost no life left,” Zelensky said of the situation in Soledar. “And thousands of their people were lost: the whole land near Soledar is covered with the corpses of the occupiers and scars from the strikes. This is what madness looks like.”

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