‘I was cannon fodder’: Killer released from prison to fight for Russia on frontline

‘I was cannon fodder’: Killer released from prison to fight for Russia on frontline surrendered to Ukrainian forces after realising he had been sent there to die

  • Convicted murderer was recruited by Putin after serving 24 years in jail
  • Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was one of a number of prisoners who signed up with a ‘private military contractor’
  •  Nuzhin is now in the custody of the Ukrainian army after surrendering to Kyiv
  •  Prisoners were offered their freedom if they survived six months in service

A convicted murderer recruited by Vladimir Putin to fight in Ukraine has surrendered to Kyiv, saying he was being used as ‘cannon fodder’.

After serving 24 years in jail for a 1999 killing, Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was one of a number of prisoners who signed up with a ‘private military contractor’. 

They were offered their freedom if they survive six months in service.

Nuzhin, now in the custody of the Ukrainian army, said he realised he was simply being sent to his death when he and his unit were ordered to help find dead or injured Russian soldiers on the battlefield in Luhansk this month.

After serving 24 years in jail for a 1999 killing, Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was one of a number of prisoners who signed up with a ¿private military contractor¿

After serving 24 years in jail for a 1999 killing, Yevgeny Nuzhin, 55, was one of a number of prisoners who signed up with a ‘private military contractor’

He said he defected because the training was poor and he had family in Ukraine.

He added: ‘As far as I understood, [we were] cannon fodder. If you didn’t follow instructions, they would shoot you.’ 

Nuzhin continued: ‘It was not Ukraine that attacked Russia, it was Putin who attacked Ukraine. 

‘I have relatives who live here. My uncle lives in the Ivano-Frankivsk region, and my sister lives in Lviv.’ 

It is as yet unclear what will now happen to Nuzhin, whose wife and a child are in Russia. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef, is behind a desperate recruit drive to provide a boost in manpower to Russia’s botched invasion

Last week, video footage emerged of a pro-Kremlin catering tycoon behind the shadowy Wagner Group of mercenaries offering inmates freedom and a possible pardon if they agree to fight. 

Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as Putin’s chef, is behind a desperate recruit drive to provide a boost in manpower to Russia’s botched invasion. 

US officials estimate that the Russian oligarch, 61, has tried to tap up at least 1,500 convicted criminals to join the fighting forces that has been dubbed the Kremlin’s private militia. 

Monthly salaries of 100,000 rubles are being offered, roughly equivalent to £1,500. A group of Ukrainian hackers, known as the IT Army of Ukraine, claimed to have obtained all the personal details of all Wagner mercenaries yesterday. 

‘Every executioner, murderer and rapist will be severely punished. Revenge is inevitable,’ said Ukrainian digital reform minister Mykhailo Fedorov. 

The Wagner group is thought to have been involved ‘false flag’ attacks in eastern Ukraine which were designed to give Russia a pretext for attacking. 

They have also been linked to the atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha where mass graves were discovered after a Russian withdrawal in March, with the victims being subjected to torture. 

Its fighters are also alleged to have been involved in the first invasion of Ukraine in 2014 when Moscow illegally seized Crimea and the Donbas, the country’s eastern industrial heartland. 

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