How much does Wagner pay? Mercenary group's convict recruitment down -UK

The mercenary group is offering contracts with bonuses for performance value.

 Visitors gather outside PMC Wagner Centre, which is a project implemented by the businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, November 4, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/IGOR RUSSAK)
Visitors gather outside PMC Wagner Centre, which is a project implemented by the businessman and founder of the Wagner private military group Yevgeny Prigozhin, during the official opening of the office block in Saint Petersburg, Russia, November 4, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/IGOR RUSSAK)

The Russia-affiliated Wagner private military company continues to recruit fighters by more traditional means as the UK Defense Ministry said that its convict recruitment program operated at a reduced scale in late 2022 on Friday.

According to a Monday posting in the Wagner-tied Grey Zone Telegram group, the PMC was offering contracts for 240,000 rubles with "good bonuses for performance."

Other benefits included health and life insurance and would provide equipment for recruits that needed.

Wagner's recruitment efforts

Wagner is reportedly seeking people with and without military experience aged 22-50 for the roles of infantry, artillery and other combat specialists. The posting also noted that psychologists, medics, and drivers were needed as part of a separate recruitment drive.

The controversial Wagner group is reported to have suffered significant casualties over the course of its operation in Ukraine, fighting alongside Russian troops.

 Wagner private military group centre opens in St Petersburg (credit: REUTERS) Wagner private military group centre opens in St Petersburg (credit: REUTERS)

The mercenary company has taken to recruiting Russian Federation prisoners, granting them freedom in exchange for a period of service in the Russia-Ukraine War. The US has described this practice as a "barbaric tactic."

In a Friday intelligence update, the UK Defense Ministry assessed that there had been a decrease in Wagner's recruitment of convicts.

"The Russian Federal Penal Service (FSIN) figures released on 31 January 2023 reported a national penal population of 433,000, suggesting a decrease of 6000 inmates since November 2022," said the ministry. "In contrast, FSIN data had indicated a decrease of 23,000 from September to November 2022. Wagner recruitment was likely a major contributing factor to this drop."

The UK Defense Ministry said that Ukrainian fighters had reported that in the last ten days that there was reduced reliance on "human wave style assaults by Wagner convict fighters in key sectors."

Besides a change in tactics, the UK suggested that it was likely that competition between Wagner and the Russian Defense establishment had reduced the supply of prisoners to the mercenary group. Wagner's Yevgeny Prigozhin has been highly critical of Russian military leaders and the conduct of the war, while his group has claimed responsibility for many of the successes in the Russian invasion.

In late January, Wagner was designated a transnational criminal organization by the US Treasury Department, which was coupled with sanctions against the PMC.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry accussed Wagner of recruiting "tens of thousands of convicted robbers, rapists and murderers," on January 27 and dismissed Russian responses to the designation that the US was engaged in "demonization."

"The fact is that, there is no difference between PMC Wagner and the Russian army," said the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.