Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner mercenary group, said it was a good idea from his marketing team to place recruiting ads on the Pornhub adult entertainment website.

Russian businessman Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner mercenary group, said it was a good idea from his marketing team to place recruiting ads on the Pornhub adult entertainment website. (FBI)

The Wagner Group was trying to seduce men to join their mercenary war in Ukraine with an advertising campaign on one of the world’s most popular porn websites.

Pornhub reportedly hosted Wagner ads seeking people with "special skills" to join the ranks of the pro-Kremlin private military group, which had previously been recruiting Russian prisoners.

The ads have been removed, a Pornhub spokesperson told Newsweek, adding that the website does not allow any politically related advertisements.

Pornhub did not return a message requesting comment on Friday. Stars and Stripes was able to verify that the phone number listed on the advertisement reached an operator who said they represented the Wagner Group.

Screen recordings published by Ukrainian online newspaper Ukrainska Pravda and other agencies show an advertisement seeking men from “all Russian regions” to join their ranks and fight alongside Russian forces in Ukraine.

The video ad, later posted to Twitter, featured a woman twirling a lollipop in her mouth as a female voice encouraged viewers to join Wagner instead of watching pornography.

The advertisement drew criticism and mockery, but one person who seemed to approve was Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Russian businessman known as "Putin's chef" for his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Prigozhin was asked by pro-Kremlin Russian media outlet the Daily Storm whether Wagner was advertising on Pornhub and responded affirmatively in an audio recording on his Telegram social media channel, Prigozhin's Cap.

"Advertising PMC Wagner on porn sites is a very good idea of our marketers,” Prigozhin wrote. “This advertisement says: 'Go to fight in the Wagner PMC, stop (expletive) off.' Who disagrees with this argument?"

The recruiting campaign comes as British intelligence officials say they believe Prigozhin lost access to Russian prison recruits due to his ongoing criticism of Russian military leaders.

“Prigozhin is highly likely pivoting recruitment efforts towards free Russian citizens,” the U.K. Defense Ministry said Monday on Twitter.

The use of a porn site for recruitment may seem like a marketing stunt, but the Ukrainian military and civilians caught up in the ongoing conflict haven’t taken the threat posed by the Wagner Group lightly.

Its combatants have contributed to Russian forces’ recent advances west of the Bakhmutka river in the center of Bakhmut, which Ukraine continues to defend at high cost in lives and resources, Western officials have said.

The recent attempt to recruit Russian porn viewers also may stem from Wagner’s continuing high rate of battlefield losses.

Russian forces “have temporarily depleted (their) deployed formations’ combat power to such an extent that ... local offensive actions are not currently sustainable,” according to a British intelligence report shared Friday on Twitter.

Offensive actions are likely to resume once reinforcements arrive, the report said.

The U.S. State Department has sanctioned the Wagner Group and designated it a transnational criminal organization.

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Alexander reports on the U.S. military and local news in Europe for Stars and Stripes in Kaiserslautern, Germany. He has 10 years experience as an Air Force photojournalist covering operations in Timor-Leste, Guam and the Middle East. He graduated from Penn State University and is a Defense Information School alumnus.

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