Russian mercenary group recruits women to fight in Ukraine

Russian mercenary group recruits women to fight in Ukraine

LONDON — A Russian mercenary group is attempting to recruit women for combat roles in Ukraine, according to the UK Ministry of Defense (MoD).

In its daily intelligence briefing for Monday, the MoD said that Redut — a state-backed private military company — is appealing for women to work as snipers and drone operators in its Borz Battalion.

Redut — formerly known as Shield — has links to the GRU, Russia’s foreign intelligence agency.

It is part of a group of mercenary forces that protect commercial operations of Russian companies, and has been deployed in Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion in 2022.

Composed of former Russian special forces and members of the Wagner mercenary group, Redut was reportedly involved in the plot to assassinate Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy in the early days of the war.

The UK MoD cited Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu saying 1,100 women were currently deployed in Ukraine, serving mostly in medical support and food service roles.

That number is equivalent to 0.3% of Russia’s military force, it estimated.

The UK MoD said it was “unclear” whether the wider Russian defence forces would follow suit and bring more women into combat roles.

Russian forces have likely sustained heavy losses over 20 months of grinding warfare in Ukraine, and may now be seeking more ways to bolster troop numbers.

Throughout history, women have played diverse roles in times of war, often making significant contributions to war efforts – despite facing societal and cultural barriers.

Women have so far taken few frontline combat roles in Ukraine, though there is a strong tradition of female snipers and other combat troops serving in Soviet forces during the Second World War, says the UK MoS.

In Russia’s initial Kyiv offensive at the start of the war, Redut sustained heavy losses of up to 90% of its fighting force, according to Insider.

The remainder were offered contracts with Russia’s conventional army, allowing the Russian MoD to effectively rebuild and control the force. — Euronews

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