The Russian government began to implement a new plan to strengthen the troops positioned in Ukraine. This comes in the context of preparations for an alleged escalation of actions in the summer.
One ad, published by a municipal administration in the Yaroslavl region, promises the equivalent of about US$3,800 just for signing up for the army. In the event of being sent to Ukraine, he would be paid an average monthly salary of about 2,500 USD, and for participating in combat actions, he would earn about 100 USD per reported operation. In addition, for each kilometer of advance in the assault teams, at least 650 USD, according to AP reports.
This text is part of the new strategy to attract more volunteers for his so-called “special military operation” in Ukraine. Other similar ads appear on government sites, streets and other entities that respond to Moscow.
The message is accompanied by an exemption from payment of tax debt and an important compensation for the family in case of falling in combat or being wounded, it seeks to be an incentive for those undecided, unemployed or financially needy, who have not yet joined to the ranks of the troops at war.
Why induce volunteering now?
The campaign arises at a time when the military procedure in the neighboring country is prolonged, discontent grows as no results are seen and more sanctions from the international community are evident.
The Kremlin does not need another scandal like the one generated by a partial mobilization of 300,000 reservists in September 2022, which generated demonstrations throughout Russia against the mobilization of reservists. At that time, even Margarita Simonián, editor-in-chief of the Russian state news channel RT, denounced that 35-year-old soldiers were being recruited despite the fact that the call was for people over 40.
Also a new official summons of this type could be read as a message of weakness on the battlefield and strengthen the Ukrainian discourse on the considerable number of casualties suffered by the Russians.
In this sense, the best option is to induce “volunteering” despite how dangerous it can be to be on a battlefield with daily fighting, especially when the conflict drags on and some who return offer not very encouraging “feedback”.
Another part of the strategy is the summons to the able-bodied men from all over the country. They have two possibilities: military training or registration update. The Kremlin spokesman himself downplayed this move. According to Dmitry Peskov, it is a “constant” and “continuous” practice.
However, something does not fit with the tranquility that Peskov wants to imply. A sign of need was given in the city of Novosibirsk. Sergei Chernyshov, the founder of a private school there, quoted by AP, said on his social networks that several officials asked educational institutions such as universities, vocational schools and colleges to include calls to join the military ranks on their websites. Chernyshov argued that he does not plan to echo the calls.
Personal contacts also enter into the strategy. In some cases they kindly approach by means of a telephone call, according to citizens consulted. In others, they pressure those chosen to enlist, according to Grigory Sverdlin, founder of a group that helps those eligible to avoid mobilization.
This organization, known as Go by the Forest, reports some 100 communications a day from those who try to avoid the calls from the authorities. Sverdlin points out that, in some cases, men they are forced to sign a document that prevents them from leaving the region.
Without turning back
Alexei Tabalov, a lawyer who runs a legal aid group, believes there is nothing out of the ordinary with these new army moves. It is even regular that at this time those who must be mobilized in the spring for compulsory military service are counted.
Tabalov points out that the group he leads also receives messages from soldiers who are working to terminate their contracts with the armed forces, which is not possible until the end of the war is decreed. “Leaving the war automatically means criminal prosecution”, he said, while underlining the large number of criminal cases that have been brought against those who in despair go AWOL or desert.
Along the same lines, the local media outlet Mediazona assured that, of 536 cases with charges formulated by the military courts, 247 were sanctioned. A third of these received suspended sentences, a measure that enables the authorities to send them back to the front lines.
Military recruitment has a defined age range from 18 to 27 years. A good part of those who receive the call disassociate themselves from the military for health reasons or an extension for studies. These cases happen in the big cities of the country like Moscow, the capital.
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