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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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International

Russian mercenary Wagner Group recruiting from Pornhub, high schools

Mar 16, 2023

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Ryan Robertson

Anchor, Investigative Reporter

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Pornhub is the most popular website in the world. It boasts more than 10 billion visitors every month. For some advertisers, it’s a perfect target demographic: bored individuals who may have too much time on their hands.

At least that’s how the Wagner Group sees it. Wagner is the Russian private military company that’s heavily involved in fighting in eastern Ukraine. Now, Wagner is trying to encourage young Russians to come and join the fight in Ukraine with a new ad on Pornhub.

The ad features a woman twirling a lollipop while a voice tells viewers, “We are the most [expletive deleted] amazing private army in the world. We are hiring fighters from all parts of Russia. Don’t whack off, apply for a job with the Wagner Group.”

Pornhub pulled the ad because, according to the site, it doesn’t allow political advertising. That the leader of Wagner, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had to resort to such tactics in the first place, however, could be another sign of the growing divide between Wagner’s hired guns and Russia’s armed forces.

Wagner vaulted to stardom in Russia after the capture of Soledar. Wagner forces experienced heavy casualties in Soledar, just as the mercenary force is currently experiencing in Bakhmut. Prigozhin was once thought to be a very close Putin ally, even earning the name “Putin’s Chef” after winning Kremlin catering contracts. The fame Prigozhin received after Soledar, though, seems to be turning to spite among Russia’s top military leadership.

At the start of the war, Wagner recruited from Russian prisons. That tactic allowed the mercenary force to swell dramatically, but it’s now barred. So, in addition to porn sites, Wagner is trying to lure fighters to the battlefield using more traditional methods like billboards or social media. A new report this week from Ukrainian intelligence said some Wagner officers are even recruiting at Russian high schools, distributing questionnaires titled “Application of a young warrior.”

The lengths the Wagner Group is going to to recruit new fighters also serve as an indication of how many fighters the private military company is losing. A February report from the White House said more than 30,000 Wagner mercenaries were killed or injured in Ukraine in the last year.

A recent assessment from the Institute for the Study of War said Russian military leadership may be allowing the mercenary group to take high casualties in an effort to erode trust in its leader while preserving Russian troops. It’s quite the change of fortunes for Prigozhin, going from Putin’s chef to potentially Putin’s scapegoat.

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PORNHUB IS THE MOST POPULAR WEBSITE IN THE WORLD. IT BOASTS MORE THAN 10 BILLION VISITORS EVERY MONTH. FOR SOME ADVERTISERS IT’S A PERFECT TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC: BORED INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY HAVE TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS.

AT LEAST THAT’S HOW THE WAGNER GROUP SEES IT. WAGNER IS THE RUSSIAN PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY THAT’S HEAVILY INVOLVED IN FIGHTING IN EASTERN UKRAINE. NOW, WAGNER IS TRYING TO ENCOURAGE YOUNG RUSSIANS TO COME AND JOIN THE FIGHT IN UKRAINE WITH A NEW AD ON PORNHUB.

THE AD FEATURES A WOMAN TWIRLING A LOLLIPOP WHILE A VOICE TELLS VIEWERS WAGNER IS THE MOST AMAZING PRIVATE ARMY IN THE WORLD, AND THEY SHOULD STOP, BEING BORED, AND INSTEAD JOIN WAGNER. THE DIRECT TRANSLATION OF THE AD IS MORE SUGGESTIVE.

PORNHUB PULLED THE AD BECAUSE, ACCORDING TO THE SITE, IT DOESN’T ALLOW POLITICAL ADVERTISING. BUT THE FACT THE LEADER OF WAGNER, YEVGENY PRIGOZHIN, HAD TO RESORT TO SUCH TACTICS IN THE FIRST PLACE COULD BE ANOTHER SIGN OF THE GROWING DIVIDE BETWEEN WAGNER’S HIRED GUNS, AND RUSSIA’S ARMED FORCES.

WAGNER VAULTED TO STARDOM IN RUSSIA AFTER THE CAPTURE OF SOLEDAR. WAGNER FORCES EXPERIENCED HEAVY CASUALTIES IN SOLEDAR, JUST AS THE MERCENARY FORCE IS CURRENTLY EXPERIENCING IN BAKHMUT.

PRIGOZHIN WAS ONCE THOUGHT TO BE A VERY CLOSE PUTIN ALLY, EVEN EARNING THE NAME PUTIN’S CHEF AFTER WINNING KREMLIN CATERING CONTRACTS. THE FAME PRIGOZHIN RECEIVED AFTER SOLEDAR THOUGH, SEEMS TO BE TURNING TO SPITE AMONG RUSSIA’S TOP MILITARY LEADERSHIP.

AT THE START OF THE WAR, WAGNER RECRUITED FROM RUSSIAN PRISONS. THAT TACTIC ALLOWED THE MERCENARY FORCE TO SWELL DRAMATICALLY, BUT IT’S NOW BARRED. SO, IN ADDITION TO PORN SITES, WAGNER IS TRYING TO LURE FIGHTERS TO THE BATTLEFIELD USING MORE TRADITIONAL METHODS LIKE BILLBOARDS OR SOCIAL MEDIA.

A NEW REPORT THIS WEEK FROM BRITISH INTELLIGENCE SAID SOME WAGNER OFFICERS ARE EVEN RECRUITING AT RUSSIAN HIGH SCHOOLS, DISTRIBUTING QUESTIONNAIRES TITLED APPLICATION OF A YOUNG WARRIOR.

THE LENGTHS THE WAGNER GROUP IS GOING TO RECRUIT NEW FIGHTERS IS ALSO AN INDICATION OF HOW MANY FIGHTERS THE PRIVATE MILITARY COMPANY IS LOSING. A FEBRUARY REPORT FROM THE WHITE HOUSE SAID MORE THAN 30,000 WAGNER MERCENARIES WERE KILLED OR INJURED IN UKRAINE IN THE LAST YEAR.

A RECENT ASSESSMENT FROM THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF WAR SAID RUSSIAN MILITARY LEADERSHIP MAY BE ALLOWING THE MERCENARY GROUP TO TAKE HIGH CASUALTIES IN AN EFFORT TO ERODE TRUST IN ITS LEADER WHILE PRESERVING RUSSIAN TROOPS.

IT’S QUITE THE CHANGE OF FORTUNES FOR PRIGOZHIN; GOING FROM PUTIN’S CHEF, TO POTENTIALLY PUTIN’S SCAPEGOAT.

FOR MORE UNBIASED, STRAIGHT FACT REPORTING ON WAGNER, RUSSIA AND THE WAR IN UKRAINE, GO TO STRAIGHT ARROW NEWS DOT COM.