Since the beginning of 2023, the Russian Ministry of Defense has intensified its program of recruiting Russian prisoners to fight in Ukraine, and in April alone it probably enlisted up to 10,000. convicts, the British Ministry of Defense said on Thursday.

As recalled in the daily intelligence update, since the summer of 2022, the prisoners have been a key pool of recruits for operations conducted in Ukraine by the private military company Wagner Group , which, however, with high probability lost access to the Russian penitentiary system in February this year, when its public dispute with the ministry of defence.

“The defense ministry’s prisoner recruitment campaign is part of a broader, intensive effort by the Russian military to increase its numbers while trying to avoid introducing a new mandatory mobilization that would be very unpopular with the Russian public,” it said.

Russian forces in Ukraine have lost over 100,000 troops since December alone. soldiers, including 20,000 killed, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in early May. He added that the Russian offensive in the Donbas lost momentum and turned out to be a failure, and the Ukrainians will be ready for a counteroffensive.

Kirby unveiled declassified US intelligence information on May 1. He mentioned e.g. about the difficult battles for Bakhmut.

“This attempt was terribly, terribly expensive. Russia has exhausted its military resources and  we estimate that it has suffered more than 100,000 casualties since December alone. casualties, including over 20,000 killed in combat , Kirby said. About half of these losses are mercenaries from the Wagner Group, most of them ex-convicts. In March, representatives of the US administration estimated the total losses of the Russians since the beginning of the invasion at over 200,000.