Russian mercenary chief announces plans to recruit 30,000 more fighters

The chief of Russia’s Wagner private military group Yevgeny Prigozhin announced on Saturday that he plans to recruit about 30,000 new fighters by mid-May, according to a voice message published on Telegram.

Prigozhin also claimed Wagner recruits about 500 to 800 people on average per day, sometimes up to 1,200 people per day.

“It is possible that this number of recruits may decrease after some time; however, by the middle of May, we plan that the number of fighters of the unit will increase by approximately 30,000,” Prigozhin said in an audio message.

Wagner is a mercenary company run by Prigozhin, who has been highly visible on the frontlines in recent months – and always quick to claim credit for Russian advances.

The group is renowned for its blunt and brutal tactics, and for showing little regard for the lives of its own soldiers. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling described its tactics in eastern Ukraine as “like feeding meat to a meat grinder.”

Last week, Prigozhin said that Wagner had opened recruitment efforts in 42 cities in Russia.

Wagner has focused its attention on recruiting mercenaries from sports clubs, boxing gyms, and other gyms, as well as men who have previously completed six-month contracts and could be rehired. Wagner has also recruited a small number of foreign fighters.

CNN previously reported that Wagner said it stopped recruiting from prisons in January. The prison recruitment campaign was well publicized and widespread, netting as many as 40,000 fighters for Wagner last year.

But many of the private military group’s recruits have been killed or wounded in heavy fighting around the city of Bakhmut, the scene of a months-long battle.

That the group is seeking tens of thousands of new fighters suggests that it has sustained major losses in the conflict.

Earlier this month, Prigozhin acknowledged that the situation in Bakhmut was “difficult, very difficult, with the enemy fighting each other for each meter.”

Although Wagner made incremental gains around Bakhmut and now holds the eastern part of the city, this came at huge costs. Prigozhin called for the support of regular Russian forces and a more reliable flow of munitions, but neither were forthcoming. He accused Russia’s Ministry of Defense of trying to strangle his force.

A Ukrainian military intelligence report obtained by CNN detailed the remorseless tactics used by Wagner. The report, dated December 2022, concluded that “the deaths of thousands of Wagner soldiers do not matter to Russian society.”

In January, a former Wagner mercenary said the brutality he witnessed in Ukraine ultimately pushed him to defect, in an exclusive interview.

Karter Wanda

"Karter Wanda is an online news blogger with a passion for uncovering and sharing stories that matter. With a strong knowledge of online research and news headlines, he has covered a wide range of topics, from breaking news and politics to culture and lifestyle. As an online news blogger, Karter Wanda brings a unique perspective to his writing, combining rigorous reporting with a conversational and engaging style. He is committed to providing accurate and reliable information to his readers and is always on the lookout for emerging trends and stories that are of interest to the online community. In addition to his work as a blogger, Karter Wanda is a regular contributor to, where he has written in-depth features and analysis on various topics. He is also a sought-after speaker and commentator on issues related to politics."

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