Ukraine is set to follow Vladimir Putin’s example in releasing prisoners to fight in the war.

This comes as the Ukrainian armed forces are demanding the mobilisation of up to half a million more to fight back against Russia.

Momentum is building for the use of convicts on the frontline.

In Russia, Putin released tens of thousands of dangerous criminals including murderers, rapists and paedophiles to fight in his war.

Those who survived six months have been pardoned, with their convictions and sentences wiped.

But dozens of prisoners pardoned by Putin have committed new horrific crimes – including murder and rape – since being freed to return to civilian life.

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Many were recruited through Wagner private mercenary company, but others were drafted into the regular army.

In Ukraine, prominent deputy commander of the 3rd separate assault brigade, Major Maksym Zhorin, backed the plan.

“I am absolutely fine with [using prisoners as fighters],” he said.

“The only thing we need to understand is that this is a rather complex human resource.

“With certain peculiarities which must be taken into account.

“Even in Russia, not everyone could manage prisoners like the Wagner [private army] did.

“This is a fact.

“This is a rather complex challenge in terms of discipline management.

“With the right selection of officers who would command them…I believe this is a real deal.”

One poll in Ukraine showed 86% support for using convicts on the frontline.

The call for Ukraine to use prisoners comes as President Volodymyr Zelensky baulked at ordering the mobilisation of up to 500,000, as the armed forces leadership are demanding.

“This is a very serious number. I said that I need more arguments to make this decision,” said Zelensky.

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Such a move would cost £10.5 billion, he said.

There is also opposition to mobilising women.

Ukraine currently has some 600,000 troops including regulars and mobilised.

There are more than 40,000 prisoners in Ukrainian jails.

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