Russia is reportedly preparing to deploy women prisoners to the front line for the first time.
Due to heavy losses in the war, Vladimir Putin has sought ‘alternative sources of replenishment of manpower’, the Ukrainian armed forces general staff claims.
‘Last week there was a movement towards the Donetsk region of a train with reserved seats for transporting prisoners. One of the carriages [was for] convicted women,’ said a statement.
Earlier this week, there were reports the Kremlin had moved female convicts to Kuschevka in Krasnodar region, close to the war zone.
Here some female prisoners – released under a special scheme linked to the war effort – were put to work as farm labourers in field as well as ‘greenhouses and cowsheds’, possibly deployed in supplying the military.
Olga Romanova, of Russian Behind Bars Foundation, believes around 100 women were sent to Ukraine.
Male prisoners have been recruited in Russia in their tens of thousands and offered a deal which reduces their sentences if they serve – and stay alive – for six months at the frontline.
Last month the Ukrainian general staff said that Russia was actively ‘trying to recruit convicted women to participate in the hostilities’.
This was to ‘compensate for losses in personnel’, they said.
Some had been recruited from a women’s penal colony in Snezhnoye, in occupied Donetsk region.
Even before the war broke out, and amid long-term personnel shortages in the Russian Armed Forces, the Kremlin has made little efforts to enlist women.
Although throughout the 2010s many women sought to join the armed forces, they were not permitted in frontline combat roles, barred from holding ranks higher than colonel and denied jobs such as ;driver, mechanic, sniper or gunner.’
Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated in May 2020 that c. 41,000 women were enlisted in the Russian Armed Forces.
According to a 2020 poll conducted by the state-run Russian Public Opinion Research Centre, 63% of Russians said they didn’t want a daughter of theirs to join the military with 42% saying ‘the army is not a woman’s business, the army is for men’.
On 12 July 2022, Russian media reported the first death of Russian female soldier in the country’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
The soldier was Anastasia Savitskaya, a corporal from Volgograd.
Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].
For more stories like this, check our news page.