Putins notorious Wagner Group doubles pay to bolster ranks amid Russian losses

The Wagner Group – the notorious mercenary group often described as “Putin’s private army,” is rapidly losing men and material as the Russian advance into Ukrainian territory crumbles.

And now the private military contractor is casting its recruiting net wider in hope of making up some of its its devastating losses in Ukraine.

Fighters from across eastern Europe and Latin America are being lured with increased rates of pay in a bid to bolster the Wagner Group’s numbers.

READ MORE: Inside The Wagner Group – Putin's secret army waging bloody war on NATO's borders

Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Wagner paid its fighters up to $5,000 (around £4,400) a month, but according to sources , the rates have recently doubled.

Wages are going up, but the company’s standards are going down.

“They would usually recruit people with solid military experience, but the invasion has changed Wagner,” a source told Middle East Eye.

“Now they are trying to reach the individuals who will not hesitate to kill people and are in need of cash.”

The private army is also suspected of making overtures to organised crime groups in Latin America and eastern European nations such as Czechia, Moldova and Hungary.

  • Shadowy Russian death squad the Wagner Group spotted fighting bloody battle in Ukraine

Wagner Group bosses are also recruiting from among Russia’s prison population, but many former prisoners are reportedly used as cannon fodder by the Russian military – deployed to distract Ukrainian forces while crack troops are moved elsewhere and frequently left behind when the main force retreats.

A recruiter in a prison in central Russia ’s Mari El region told convicts: “In six months you will go home, having been pardoned.

“There is no chance of returning to prison.”

  • Recruits to Putin's secret Wagner Group army told 'don’t have sex with locals or animals'

In a strong hint that Russian fighters were expected to blow themselves up rather than allow themselves to be captured, he told them that each man would be issued with two hand grenades.

“No one is retreating. No one backs down. No one is being taken prisoner,” he said, according to a subtitled video that was posted online by supporters of imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close associate of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, has long been believed to be the Wagner Group’s head, but has only recently confirmed the fact.

Speaking on Russian state media, he proudly compared his mercenary force to great military units of the past: “There should be phenomena like Wagner in the culture of any state.

"I've talked more than once about Robin Hood, the Three Musketeers, the 300 Spartans. Now it's Wagner's turn”.

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