The Russian defence manufacturing sector is highly likely resorting to using convict labour in an effort to meet war-time production demands, British Ministry of Defence reports.
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,” the report reads.