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A Russian mercenary group fighting in eastern Ukraine has turned to a pornography website to recruit further fighters after tens of thousands died on the frontlines. An advertisement for the Wagner Group was found on Pornhub calling on viewers to stop “wh***** off and apply for a job” with the private military company currently stationed in Bakhmut, in the Donetsk region of Ukraine. The porn site has since taken down the advertisement, though the Wagner Group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin endorsed the video, calling it an “excellent idea of our marketing specialists”.
In the advertisement, a woman could be seen licking a lollipop, urging the viewers to join the war in Ukraine.
The woman says: “We are the most f***ing amazing private army in the world. We are hiring fighters from all parts of Russia. Don’t wh*ck off, apply for a job with the Wagner Group.”
The video was reportedly only visible to several Russian regions outside of Moscow, which is in line with the latest recruitment drive targeting rural areas of the country and avoiding conscripting those in the more affluent capital.
At the end of the video, a phone number linked to Wagner Group recruiters then appeared on the screen.
The video could only be accessed by Pornhub users in Russia who did not use VPN or adblocks.
Prigozhin endorsed the advert on Wednesday, saying he “fully agreed” with the targeted message.
He said: “Placing Wagner’s ads on porn websites is an excellent idea for our marketing specialists,” he said in a statement. I fully agree with them and what the ad says … Who wouldn’t?”
Earlier in the war, Wagner Group recruitment drives proved highly successful as Prigozhin, who spent almost a decade incarcerated in Russia himself, toured prisons around the country, promising to free the inmates.
Irrespective of their crimes or sentence terms, prisoners were offered a Presidential pardon if they served a six-month contract fighting in Ukraine as part of the Wagner Group.
But enthusiasm for the group, which is increasingly being prescribed by Western powers as a terrorist organisation, has waned in recent months.
Rights activists estimated that tens of thousands of Wagner Group fighters have been killed in Bakhmut, the site of the hottest fighting on the frontline in Ukraine, as they were used as cannon fodder in WW1-style “human wave attacks”.
News of this brutality appeared to discourage Russians both within and outside of the prisons to join up the private military company.
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And in February this year, Prigozhin claimed he had been banned from recruiting convicts from Russian penal colonies altogether, in part because of continued public feuding with the Russian ministry of defence, who he regularly claimed were destroying the war effort.
On 9 February, Prigozhin announced that the recruitment of convicts had completely stopped, though he never specified what caused such a decision.
The following day, US-based military analyst The Institute for the Study of War concluded that the limited recruitment drive related to its huge losses on the frontline compromising its relevance.
It said: “This phenomenon is consistent with the overall trend of conventional Russian troops slowly replacing the Wagner Group around Bakhmut, indicating that Russian military command may be shifting away from its reliance on Wagner and therefore on using prisoners as cannon fodder.”
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