Putin mobilised prisoners to fight his war in the Ukraine. The deal is that if you sign up to fight you get your sentence wiped: murder, rape, gangsterism—clean slate. The advantage to this strategy is that it can frighten the enemy to fight “the Moscow cannibal”; if you surrender, who knows, perhaps he’ll eat you. It’s a semi-return to trial by ordeal—survive, you’re innocent; or, if maimed, that is your punishment. As a rational advantage, the move empties prisons.
People sometimes say, as regard miscreant youths, “Put ’em in the army—National Service will sort ’em out.” It’s a bad move to put criminally-minded people in the army. Unless caught very early, they will just spread their criminality into the army and demoralise it—or use the skills the obtained there, such as how to kill people, on the outside. Miscreant youths just need to be punished—simple as.
The Russian move is a mistake because although the Ukrainians will be somewhat frightened to face “the Moscow cannibal” the fear created will not be offset by the demoralisation created within the Russian army. The ordinary Russian soldier no longer thinks of himself as an honourable man motivated to risk his life by selfless love of country, a professional soldier—instead, he is in an organisation formed from murderers, rapists, and gangsters motivated by base desires. Throw in the fact he already fights with Wagner—mercenaries who fight under a foreign name, not even “Shostakovich”—and the Chechen jihadi-mercenaries and you have a dismal morale situation: we fight for money, for clemency, for a foreign God. Not very inspiring—not to mention the criminality that will soak into the army, already troubled by corruption, once the gangsters get in. This has come about because Putin fights the last war—he thinks he is in a “limited combat”, like Syria, where he can get away with “war-lite” (mercenaries etc). Yet it’s actually a full-scale war, the Russian force is not fit for purpose.