Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

UKRAINE could be set to follow Vladimir Putin’s twisted example of releasing prisoners to help fight against a renewed Russian onslaught.

Kyiv’s military commanders are backing the plan to free lags in exchange for military service as the devastating war grinds deeper into its second winter.

East2WestUkraine looks set to carry out similar plans to Russia and let prisoners fight in exchange for their freedom[/caption]

AFPVolodymyr Zelensky unveiled plans to mobilise 500,000 more troops last night[/caption]

East2WestUkrainian Major Maksym Zhorin believes the plan to recruit convicts could be the ‘real deal’ to help secure a victory against Russia[/caption]

It comes as the Ukrainian military demanded the mobilisation of up to half a million more conscripts to fight against the new Russian onslaught.

Inside Ukraine’s military headquarters, momentum is building for the use of convicts – but fears exist over how such a plan would be carried out.

In Russia, Putin released tens of thousands of his country’s most dangerous criminals including murderers, rapists and paedophiles to fight in his bloody war.

Thousands of the poorly-trained and ill-equipped prisoners were forced to their deaths in suicidal meat-grinder assaults or faced the firing line if they refused.

Those who managed to survive six months have been pardoned, with their convictions and sentences wiped.

Dozens of those pardoned by Putin went on to commit new horrific crimes – including murder and rape – since being freed to return to civilian life.

Many were recruited into the ruthless Wagner private mercenary company, but others were drafted into the regular army. 

In Ukraine, prominent deputy commander of the 3rd separate assault brigade, Major Maksym Zhorin, backed the plan.

“I am absolutely fine with [using prisoners as fighters],” he said. 

“The only thing we need to understand is that this is a rather complex human resource.

“With certain peculiarities which must be taken into account.

“Even in Russia, not everyone could manage prisoners like the Wagner [private army] did.

“This is a fact. This is a rather complex challenge in terms of discipline management. 

“With the right selection of officers who would command them…I believe this is a real deal.”

One poll in Ukraine showed 86 per cent support for using convicts on the frontline. 

Lt Andrii Illenko – of the Svoboda battalion of the 4th operational brigade of the National Guard – said: “If a person wants to fight, he should be at war.”

He called for an appropriate legal framework to permit volunteering convicts to serve. 

“There are completely wild situations where this would not work,” he said. 

“But I believe that now it is necessary to create an appropriate legal framework so that those people who are in correctional institutions, especially in pre-detention facilities, and we know that many people are there for years.

“If they really want to fight, they should have such an opportunity.”

Ukraine currently has some 600,000 troops including regulars and mobilised. 

There are more than 40,000 prisoners in Ukrainian jails. 

The calls come as President Volodymyr Zelensky baulked at ordering the new mobilisation of up to 500,000 conscripts.

“This is a very serious number. I said that I need more arguments to make this decision,” said Zelensky during a rare end-of-year news conference last night,

He added that such a move would cost £10.5 billion and also expressed the existing opposition to mobilising women.

The defiant Ukrainian president faced off a round of serious questions concerning the state of the war, waning military aid and war fatigue.

He kicked off his address by stating: “This is a difficult year that is coming to an end” – but flatly denied Ukraine is losing the war and refused to discuss any form of defeat.

“We are not ready to give up,” Zelensky said, adding that “no one knows” when the war will end.

Facing questions over military support and aid, he stated that Ukraine’s allies abroad would “never betray us”.

However, cash-strapped Kyiv is facing a difficult second winter at war with issues Zelensky said centred around securing enough to plug the shortage in artillery shells and systems and other weapons.

Ukraine is currently facing down Moscow’s bloody winter offensive, which is attempting to break a painful stalemate and seize a major victory by March.

Putin’s army is attacking Ukraine at six different key points last weekend as Russian forces targeted Kupiansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Marinka and Zaporizhzhia.

In just one day over 100 different bloody battles took place.

Western intelligence claims that Russia has lost over 340,000 troops since the beginning of his brutal invasion in Ukraine.

However even before the war, Ukraine’s population of 43 million was only a third of Russia’s – meaning time is on Putin’s side as he grinds Kyiv’s forces down as he continuously replenishes his army.

Putin appears hellbent on securing a battlefield victory before the 2024 presidential elections, which could guarantee his rule until at least 2030.

Russia still controls nearly a fifth of Ukraine’s territory and experts argue that the heavily dug-in, fortified and land-mined frontline hasn’t truly moved since summer

Russian President Vladimir Putin lost 1,000 soldiers a day during the weekend’s brutal fighting

Ukraine is holding off Russian forces on six different fronts in Ukraine

Zelensky said it had been a ‘difficult year’ for Ukraine in a conference last night

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