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UK intel: Russian Shtorm-Z convict soldiers deployed with unhealed wounds

Russian Shtorm-Z units mostly comprising convict recruits are being deployed with untreated injuries, exacerbating the strain on both military and home units, per UK intelligence.
Soldiers of Russia’s the Storm Z units, formed of former convicts. Screenshot via RFE/RL

The British Defense Ministry’s December 18 intelligence update highlights Russian Shtorm-Z troops returning to combat with untreated wounds, including amputations, due to minimal medical care. Convict recruits face worse conditions, straining military and home units.

Storm-Z is a group of Russia’s penal military units established by the Russian Defense Ministry in April 2023, modeled after the Wagner Group’s penal recruitment.

The ministry tweeted:

  • Members of Russian Shtorm-Z units are highly likely being returned to combat duties with unhealed wounds, and even after limb amputations. This follows credible reports that members of Shtorm-Z, Donetsk militias, and Wagner Group have frequently received minimal or no treatment.
  • It is likely that convict recruits – who make up a large proportion of Shtorm-Z units – are especially liable to receive poor treatment. One reason is that prisoners often lack the paperwork required to access military hospitals.
  • Whilst reducing pressure on an overburdened military medical system, the lack of proper in-theatre medical attention will transfer the administrative and medical burden back to troops’ home units.

UK intel: Russia depends on convicts in Ukraine offensives

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