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An essay on the use of prisoners as storm troopers

The British former barrister and historian Alexander Mercouris, and several other commentators watching developments in Ukraine, commented on the news that the 'Wagner'-group, a Russian 'Private Military Company', is recruiting inmates. In a video the formal owner of the 'Wagner'-group was seen speaking with inmates in Russian prisons about a 'special offer' of a reduced sentence, in exchange for serving the company on a six month contract. I'm referring to what Mercouris and others said, since I didn't see the video myself. 


The deal, Mercouris explained, was that inmates who qualified would sign a six month contract with 'Wagner' after receiving initial training, to serve as 'Storm Troopers'. Foot soldiers doing the 'heavy lifting', with a fair chance of dying in the process. Ukraine has a similar program, and France has its 'Foreign Legion' which is known to be a refuge for people with a criminal record. The US offered 'soft landings' for various 'hackers' if they agreed to work for 'Uncle Sam'. And multiple countries harboured war criminals after the second world war, escaping justice since they were of use to their new host. 


What peeked my interest was that it seems to indicate that Russia appears to be changing course if they are recruiting 'Storm Troopers', away from relying on artillery and DPR/LPR-militia to roll back Ukrainian forces. But there was more to that story, where Mercouris stated that the offer extended to prisoners came with promises and demands. 'Wagner' demanded that recruits would agree to refrain from stealing from civilians, from rape, and wouldn't retreat. When encircled, they would have a hand-granade to kill themselves to avoid being captured, since mercenaries are not covered by the Geneva Convention. But 'Wagner' promised to recover the bodies of fallen soldiers, and bury them at the cemetery of their choice, which would include honorary cemeteries for the regular military who served their country. After serving for six months they were free to leave, or to sign for an extension. 


As with the 'Foreign Legion', and other 'Private Military Corporations', these 'businesses' serve as a surrogate family, with a core of well trained 'Special Forces' military in commanding positions, and doing the training of recruits. As such they are very similar to various criminal organisations, prying on youngsters from 'broken homes', or with interests out of the ordinary resulting in trouble. In fact, those arguing in favour of the 'draft', war or no war, which was common in Holland in the past, refer to this quality of 'disciplining' youngsters if their parents failed them, and society. To save them from prison, as a 'preemptive strike', so to speak. 


Now, why would Russia need these 'Storm Troopers'? To reach Odessa would be my best guess at the moment, following my own predictions from January, which are still holding true. So, a Russian offensive, after they are done breaking the Ukrainian offensive presently taking place. But I do not possess the plans of the Russian general staff, and I cannot look inside Putin's head, so who knows? But first, and foremost, Russia will have to find a way to stop the random killing of civilians and civil servants by Ukraine in the territories they occupy, and on their own soil, since Ukrainian 'Special Forces' and artillery regularly strike villages and 'objects of interest' in Russia itself. Contrary to what the west is hoping for, this would not require total mobilisation, which would be very costly to the Russian economy, according to the bulk of commentators who are not 'embedded' with NATO. 


What is expected, is that Russia will use conscripts to defend the border area, which does not require it to declare war, while upgrading the 'Special Military Operation' to an 'Anti-Terrorist Operation', which would free it from the constraints of the 'SMO'. The Ukrainian counteroffensive in the Kherson region is generating huge losses on the Ukrainian side according to most observers on both sides. The 'play' of bombing the dam at Kryvyi Rih, and one further upstream after that, is causing the Ukrainians all kinds of headaches. I have no way of knowing if this is going to be 'Custers Last Stand', or that they still have plenty of reserves to extend this offensive, but the moment they will have to stand down due to a lack of soldiers to throw at the Russian defences, or lack of ammunition and 'hardware', they will revert to terrorism. Striking random objects to create an atmosphere of fear and create doubt about the Russian ability to offer security. Counter-attacking with an offensive aimed at Nikolaev and Odessa would do little to alleviate that threat. 


On the other hand, my own Dutch newspaper, sensing that the Kherson offensive is not exactly going according to plan, is expecting a pause during the winter, with a fresh Ukrainian offensive in the spring, aimed at 'retaking' Crimea, which was never theirs to begin with. At this stage I'm tempted to ask what they've been smoking, since I doubt that the world will be left 'frozen' as it is for six months, while NATO pumps out fresh meat, ammunition and weapons to throw at the Russians when they are ready. But clearly, at some stage, Russia will announce that it has achieved its goals, liberating/occupying the Donbas, and demilitarising Ukraine to the extent that they lack the resources to pose a threat, while NATO is not done yet. It is anyone's guess what will happen then. If the US decides to empty its prisons for the continuation of the war, they have an unlimited supply of 'Storm Troopers', since they have, by far, the largest number of prisoners per capita in the whole wide world.

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