PMC Wagner will lose many mercenaries due to the end of their six-month military contracts. Thousands of prisoners who were recruited for the war with Ukraine will be pardoned and released. This is reported by the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) in a summary, citing intelligence data from the UK Department of Defense.
The Kremlin's decision to pardon convicts will lead to their exodus from PMCs and exacerbate the shortage of personnel, according to the Moscow Region, since the Kremlin has now blocked the ability to recruit prisoners. According to the agency, thousands of convicts recruited in the fall of 2022 will go to freedom.
In addition, ISW claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to completely distance himself from one of the founders of PMC Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, after the conflict amid the capture of Soledar. Institute analysts suggest that the Kremlin deliberately allowed the release of prisoner pardons in order to encourage more convicts to leave after the expiration of their contracts in order to weaken PMCs. Prigozhin has created a brand that ridicules the Russian Defense Ministry for its disregard for the welfare of military personnel, and is unlikely to anger convicts by keeping them on the front lines after their contracts expire, the ISW concluded.
Wagner PMC fighters really openly criticize the Russian command, publishing video messages, including to the head of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov. In one of them, PMC members said: “To the Chief of the General Staff: you are a f*ck and damn it. We have nothing to fight with, we have no shells. There, the guys are dying for us, and we are sitting here, fucking not helping. Prigozhin himself accused Gerasimov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu of undersupply of weapons and suggested equating their actions with treason. PMCs and the military department during the war more than once publicly fought for spheres of influence. In January, Prigozhin and the Ministry of Defense argued over the capture of Soledar. The head of the PMC claimed that his fighters took the city, and the Ministry of Defense wrote in reports that not only PMC mercenaries were participating in the battles.