Kremlin chief Putin is said to be secretly recruiting prisoners so that Wagner boss Prigozhin can recruit more mercenaries. Selenskyj thanks Poland for the Leopard offer – and denies the Russian takeover of Soledar. What happened at night in the war in Ukraine.

Kremlin boss Vladimir Putin has secretly and as a precaution pardoned Russian prisoners. They should be encouraged to sign a mercenary contract for Prigozhin’s Wagner group and be able to act in the war of aggression in Ukraine with impunity. This is reported by the “Institute for the Study of War” (ISW) and refers to several reports. A few days ago, Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Russian Human Rights Council, confirmed to the Russian broadcaster RIA that prisoners recruited by Prigozhin’s Wagner group will be pardoned before leaving prisons.

According to the Russian penal code, only Putin himself can issue pardons. However, these are subject to the strictest secrecy, according to the ISW. Previously, Prigozhin himself claimed to have pardoned a returning recruit group, but according to the ISW, he did not have the authority to do so.

The fact that Putin now pardons convicts himself suggests that he (like Prigozhin with his own attempt at pardon) wants to further promote the Wagner group and legitimize their recruiting practices. The goal for the ISW is clear: the criminals should be given an incentive to sign a mercenary contract so that the recruitment for the Wagner group can be further promoted. Wagner’s untrained criminal squads are often sent to the front lines to act as cannon fodder.

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy welcomed Poland’s initiative to provide his country with Leopard main battle tanks. “Thank you very much to President Duda, the Polish government and all our Polish friends,” said Zelenskyj in his daily video address on Wednesday evening on the results of his meeting with his Polish colleague Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian head of state Gitanas Nauseda in Lviv. Western-made tanks are “the work of our entire anti-war coalition and a new level of our potential.”

After the meeting, Duda said his country had made the decision to provide the Ukrainians with Leopard main battle tanks for a company as part of a coalition with allies. In Poland, as in Germany, a Leopard company is usually equipped with 14 main battle tanks. Duda went on to say that the prerequisite was, on the one hand, “a whole series of formal requirements and approvals”. On the other hand, Poland wanted an international coalition to be formed to which other countries would also contribute battle tanks. For his part, Nauseda had stated that Lithuania wanted to supply more anti-aircraft weapons to Ukraine.

Western tanks in Ukraine will soon be “rusty scrap metal,” according to former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. The armored vehicles will not save the crumbling “artificial state” of Ukraine, commented the Vice-Chairman of Russia’s National Security Council. At the meeting in Lviv, which Medvedev believes will soon return to Poland as Lemberg, tanks such as the Leopard, modernized T-72s and even British tanks were “adored”. “But all this iron will definitely soon turn into rusty scrap metal,” Medvedev said.

According to its own account, the notorious Russian mercenary group Wagner found the body of a missing Brit in Ukraine, along with ID and the documents of a second British citizen. On a Telegram channel assigned to the mercenaries, photos were posted on Wednesday evening that are said to show the documents of the two Britons. The body of one of the men and the ID cards were found in the heavily contested eastern Ukrainian city of Soledar, sources said. There was no information about the fate of the second missing person. The statement did not indicate on which side the missing Briton had fought.

A few days ago, the Foreign Ministry in London announced that two Britons were missing in Ukraine. According to various media reports, dozens of foreign fighters have died in Ukraine since the start of the Russian war of aggression. Most of them supported the Ukrainian armed forces.

According to the Ukrainian President Selenskyj, the occupation of the heavily contested eastern Ukrainian town of Soledar announced by the Russian side is a propaganda maneuver. “The front in the Donetsk region is holding,” Zelenskyy said in his daily video address. “Fighting continues and we are doing everything we can to strengthen Ukraine’s defences.”

“Now the terror state and its propagandists are trying to pretend that part of our city of Soledar – a city that was almost completely destroyed by the invaders – is some kind of property of Russia,” Zelenskyy said. With these claims of supposed success, Russia is trying to deceive its population and “support the mobilization”. In addition, the “proponents of aggression” should be given further hope.

In the Soledar battle, Putin’s mercenary boss fights for a gigantic tunnel system

The Ukrainian general staff had also denied Russian reports about the conquest of Soledar. “Fighting continues,” it said in a statement. On Tuesday, the head of the Russian Wagner mercenary force, Yevgeny Prigozhin, claimed that the small town in the Donetsk region was almost captured and that around 500 Ukrainian soldiers were trapped. The Russian military leadership remained silent. In an interview with the Interfax news agency, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov only mentioned “positive dynamics in terms of progress”.

Around ten and a half months after the start of the war, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu appointed Chief of Staff Valery Gerasimov as the new commander of the Russian troops in Ukraine. The previous commander, Sergei Surovikin, who only took over the post last October, should become Gerasimov’s deputy, the ministry said in Moscow on Wednesday.

Shoigu also appointed two other deputies, General Oleg Salyukov and Colonel-General Alexei Kim. Moscow justified the realignment with an “expansion of the scope of the tasks to be solved” and the need for closer cooperation between the individual parts of the army.

The SPD parliamentary group relies on diplomatic initiatives to reach a peace agreement in the Ukraine war. “Because we know that wars are not usually ended on the battlefield,” says a draft for a position paper by the largest government faction, which is to be decided at the annual meeting beginning this Thursday. “Even if, for understandable reasons, there is no longer any trust in the current Russian leadership, diplomatic talks must remain possible.” That is why Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s phone calls with Russian President Vladimir Putin are right and necessary.

After Poland’s advance, the international discussion about the delivery of heavy battle tanks to Ukraine will certainly continue on Thursday.

Also read: Ukraine update on January 11 – Rate of fire drops by 75 percent: Russia is running out of ammunition