Russia's Wagner mercenary group has taken to an unconventional platform to recruit new fighters in their battle against Ukrainian forces – taking out an advertisement in the popular pornography website Pornhub.com, Ukrainian news outlet Ukrainskaya Pravda reported Wednesday.
Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin's private military force has faced issues recruiting mercenaries – especially as their fighters continue to perish on the front lines – and have thus taken out the suggestive ad in the Kemerovo and Volgograd regions of Russia, according to the report.
The risque ad features a woman twirling a lollipop in her mouth as a voiceover encourages viewers to sign up for a position at the Wagner group. It’s unclear how many times the ad has been viewed on Pornhub and for how long it has been up on the site.
ЗМІ звернули увагу на те, що ПВК "Вагнер", власником якого є Євген Пригожин, почали рекламувати на популярному порносайті Pornhub (18+). pic.twitter.com/pXfiXq2jrI— Українська правда ✌️ (@ukrpravda_news) March 15, 2023
"We are the coolest private army in the world. We are recruiting fighters from all regions of Russia… Don't wack off, go to work at Wagner PMC," the 15-second ad declares before a phone number ostensibly associated with the Wagner group appears on screen.
Wagner group recruiting efforts
The mercenary group, which has been at the forefront of the Ukraine-Russia War and has earned international condemnation for its efforts, has become known for its out-of-the-box recruiting tactics, such as recruiting Syrian refugees or Russian prisoners.
The Wagner group was famously offering enlisting convicts a pardon if they survived six months' service in Ukraine, while a transcript published by the US Defense Department in May accused the Wagner group of enlisting mercenaries from Libya and Syria.
"Since the start of March 2023, Wagner has set up outreach teams based in sports centers in at least 40 locations across Russia," said the Russian Defense Ministry on Monday. "In recent days, masked Wagner recruiters also gave career talks in Moscow high schools, distributing questionnaires entitled ‘application of a young warrior’ to collect the contact details of interested pupils."
Wagner is reportedly seeking people with and without military experience aged 22-50 for the roles of infantry, artillery and other combat specialists, according to a classified ad posted on a Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel. The posting also noted that psychologists, medics, and drivers were needed as part of a separate recruitment drive.
At least 20,000 prisoners were recruited by Wagner to take part in the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but in December Reuters reported that this could have been as high as 40,000. A White House estimate from February put the number of Wagner fighters killed or injured since the start of the invasion in Feb. 2022 at more than 30,000.
Michael Starr contributed to this report.