Prisoners with HIV and Hepatitis C have been recruited by the Russian Wagner Group private military company, according to a Tuesday report from the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.
In order to properly classify which of the Russian soldiers are sick or suffer from such diseases, a specific wristband will be placed on their hands - red for HIV and white for hepatitis.
There are more than 100 prisoners with HIV/AIDS or hepatitis as of Tuesday, the defense ministry said. According to the report, the infected prisoners are on bad terms with the other Russian soldiers, even though they both fight beside each other.
According to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry, there is growing resentment among other fighters over being forced to serve alongside soldiers with these diseases, and Russian medics have routinely refused to provide care to wounded soldiers with hepatitis or HIV.
Several Russian soldiers with these diseases have been taken as prisoners of war by Ukrainian forces.
Wagner Group forcibly drafting prisoners
The majority of Wagner Group mercenaries fighting on behalf of Russia in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine consist of enlisted prisoners, according to a recent report from Ukraine's Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR).
The GUR noted that the number of Wagner mercenaries in Russia, most of whom are on the front lines, is over 8,000 men, and that most of them have been recruited from prison.
According to Ukrainian intelligence reports, after signing and fulfilling the contracts with the private military company, convicts are promised full amnesty after six months of service. They further claimed that the crime committed by convicts is irrelevant, even if it is murder or other serious crimes.
Wagner has reportedly been taking part in this, as they have also suffered significant losses during the war.
Aaron Reich contributed to this report.