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Russia to engage prisoners in weapons production - British intelligence

Russia's largest tank manufacturer Uralvagonzavod has already announced that it would hire 250 prisoners.

Russia to engage prisoners in weapons production - British intelligence
Photo: Russian media

Russia is going to attract prisoners to work in the defence industry in order to supply more weapons for the war with Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence reports, citing intelligence data.

“The Russian defence manufacturing sector is highly likely resorting to using convict labour in an effort to meet war-time production demands,” the message reads.

In November 2022, Uralvagonzavod (UVZ), Russia’s largest tank manufacturer, told local media that it would employ 250 prisoners after meeting with the Federal Penal Service (FSIN).

There is a long tradition of prison labour in Russia, but since 2017 forced labour as a specific criminal punishment was reintroduced.

With one of the highest rates of incarceration in the world, FSIN oversees a sprawling empire of over 400,000 inmates and has frequently been accused of extreme brutality and corruption.

The prison population provides a unique human resource to Russian leaders to utilise in support of the ‘special military operation’ while willing volunteers remain in short supply.

Convict labour will likely be particularly in demand from manufacturers of relatively low-tech weaponry such as UVZ, which are almost certainly under intense pressure from Moscow to increase their production.

Ukrainian intelligence recently reported that Russia is seeking to create a two-million-strong army, with mobilization to be announced soon. The second draft wave may cover 500,000 people.

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