The motives of prisoners of war in Ukraine vary greatly. Some people rave about the task, while for others it is “hell”.
The essentials in a nutshell
- Five inmates for whom Wagner became mercenaries report on their work.
- One of the fighters signed up out of love for family, the other out of patriotism.
- Four of the five were wounded, but all were again discussing fighting for Prigozhin.
According to estimates, Yevgeny Prigozhin sent about 40,000 prisoners to his Wagner group and sent them to the war in Ukraine. He freed them six months later. You can see in the videos that some have already received amnesty. Through these and other mercenary records, Reuters was able to identify and interview some of the fighters.
All five interviewees gave very different motives to the work: Rustam Borovkov, for example, signed up with the mercenaries because of his family: “I have a small child, I wanted to return to my family,” he explains. That’s why Prigogine knew he wanted to fight even before he went to prison. The 31-year-old has served six years in prison for manslaughter and robbery and has another seven years to go.
Yevgeny Kushelev, on the other hand, said that he would have gone to war as a free man in Ukraine, and that he would have volunteered. When he was hired, he had already served most of his sentence, but the convicted thief turned himself in.
After Prigogine’s speech, Borovkov reports, they had three days to make a decision. After the decision, they were transferred to other places in the prison and treated with respect.
Wagner-Soltner raved about the short training
The culprit says they were trained “at a high level” by elite players for two to three weeks. They don’t just give you a gun and show you how to shoot it. “No, they explained everything to me, in great detail.”
Dmitry Yermakov rates the training very well. The convicted trafficker remained behind bars with four years remaining on a 14-year sentence.
During training, it was already clear who would survive, Yermakov says: some new mercenaries prepared well and asked often. Others, on the other hand, would hope to serve six months and fight as little as possible. “It was absolutely clear that they were going to die.”
Wagner mercenaries want to fight back after being decommissioned in the Ukraine war
Yermakov survived, but was wounded. He describes his last day as “pure hell”. However, time spent in hospital and rehabilitation is counted towards six months of service. Four of the five people interviewed by Reuters were wounded while serving in the war in Ukraine.
Despite the explanation and his injury, Yermakov, like the other interview partners, is considering additional work for the Wagner group. Because he sees only limited possibilities in civilian life.
Do you think the war in Ukraine will end soon?
For Nikita Lyupimo, returning to the front is the first and highest priority. Andrei Jastrebow also speaks highly of service in the war in Ukraine: “It was incredible, very adrenaline.” The Ukrainians fled and the Wagner mercenaries “finished” them off. He wanted all “real men” to join the Wagner group.
“Wannabe pop culture fanatic. Zombie advocate. Entrepreneur. Internet evangelist. Alcohol fanatic. Typical travel buff.”