Desperate Putin recruits ‘suicide squads’ of gulag inmates for war in Ukraine

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VLADIMIR Putin’s desperate generals have started recruiting violent and dangerous inmates to fight on the front line in Ukraine.

Murderers and sex offenders from some of Russia’s most notorious prison camps are among the new volunteers signing up for Putin’s doomed war in Ukraine.

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Prison inmates in Russia are being offered their freedom if they sign up to fight in Ukraine

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Yevgeny Prigozhin, left, is the rumoured head of the private army the Wagner GroupCredit: AP

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Prigozhin, who was formerly ‘Putin’s chef’, tells deserters they will be shotCredit: AP

In a video shared online, hundreds of inmates at a high-security penal colony in Mordovia line up in front of a recruiter.

The speaker is the infamous Yevgeny Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s chef”, who is believed to be in charge of the Wagner group of mercenaries.

In the extraordinary short clip Prigozhin, who was recently awarded a Hero of Russia medal by Vlad for his loyalty, tells the hardened criminals that they will become war heroes or be shot as deserters.

The prisoners are told they will be offered their freedom and a personal pardon from Putin if they last six months at the frontline in Ukraine.

And if they die, they will be buried “as heroes”, he tells them.

Prigozhin then issues a shocking demand to the new recruits – if they are captured by Ukraine they are to kill themselves rather than fall into enemy hands.

The sullen inmates are ordered to blow themselves up with grenades if they get caught.

Any soldiers who run away from the war are told they will be instantly executed with a bullet to the head.

The secretly filmed video shows Prigozhin, 61, admit to being a representative of the Wagner Group, Putin’s private army that fights dirty wars for the Russian tyrant around the world.

He has previously denied a link to the group, which is believed to have already recruited thousands of inmates as fighters.

“I am a representative of a private war company,  perhaps you heard the name – Wagner Group,” he tells the crowd.

He also admits that the situation in Ukraine is a “war” and not a “special military operation”, as the Kremlin has previously insisted, and confesses that Russian forces are struggling.

“This is a hard war, not even close to the likes of Chechen and the other,” he says.

“My ammunition consumption is two-and-a-half times higher than in the Battle of Stalingrad,” he adds, referring to the Second World War battle which saw almost two million casualties.

We take great care about those jailed for sex offences [but] we understand people make mistakes

Yevgeny PrigozhinPutin’s ‘chef’

In a stark warning to the convicts, he goes on: “The first sin is deserting. No one deserts, no one gives up, no one surrenders. You’ll be taught what to do regarding surrender.”

All soldiers must have two grenades on them – one for the enemy and one for themselves.

He also tells soldiers that they are banned from drinking or using drugs in the war zone, or having sex with local women.

Any inmates between the ages of 22 and 50 are given the chance to join, although Prigozhin adds that “good physical shape is a must”.

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The inmates include murderers and sex offenders from Russia’s notorious penal colonies

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It comes amid heavy Russian losses in UkraineCredit: AFP

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Abandoned and destroyed equipment lies scattered across UkraineCredit: AP

In the chilling video, he boasts that in June the first 40 inmates he sent to Putin’s war from a St Petersburg jail had “stormed the enemy trenches, [and] killed them with knives”.

And he admits that he has sent rapists to the front line if they pass the necessary tests.

“We take great care about those jailed for sex offences [but] we understand people make mistakes,” he says.

The inmates are given “five minutes” to decide whether they want to come.

It comes amid the Russian army’s rumoured collapse in eastern and southern Ukraine which has seen Vlad’s forces lose more territory in a matter of days than they gained in five months of the war.

Russia has lost some $1 billion in military equipment during the three-week blitz which has seen tanks and ammunition abandoned by fleeing battalions.

Dramatic footage has captured Russian troops surrendering en masse with reports of plummeting morale among the soldiers.

On Wednesday, Putin’s troops began abandoning the city of Melitopol in southern Ukraine in the face of the lightning-fast Ukrainian counter-strike, according to reports.

Ukraine has reportedly been handing out “surrender cards” to Russian soldiers, containing secret codes with advice on how they can return home alive.

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