Two reports together reveal the depravity of Putin’s military footing. The issue stems from a simple fact that nobody in Russia appears willing to fight for Putin (e.g. he’s failed to raise any cause above his personality).
Allegedly there are three main routes (mercenary exploitation, release from incarceration or alternative to desperation) actively used by Russia to recruit soldiers into its “irreversible mistakes“.
Task and Purpose reports first:
The attempt to entice unhoused Russians is the latest sign that the military is getting desperate to meet recruitment goals from the Kremlin. In August, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree for the military to expand from its current 1.9 million person size to 2.04 million. That’s a tough ask for the military. Estimates put Russian casualties in Ukraine at 70,000-80,000, with a third of those being deaths.
Despite having several thousands of soldiers already trained and conscripted, Russia can’t actually field them. Since Putin has insisted on calling the war a “special military operation” and not actually a war, it’s limited his military options. A Russian law prohibits sending conscripts into a war, forcing the Kremlin to rely on its contract soldiers, as well as a slew of mercenaries (oftentimes Russian veterans, but also fighters from Syria and elsewhere). So far Russia has tried to make these contracts more appealing, offering higher pay and bonuses for various “heroic acts.” It appears the government is hoping that can entice unhoused Russians.
And next the BBC reports:
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner group, said those who do not want to send convicts to fight should send their own children instead. Earlier, leaked footage showed him telling inmates they would be freed if they served six months with his group. The Wagner group is believed to have been fighting in Ukraine since 2014. In a statement published on social media after the video went viral, Mr Prigozhin said that if he were in prison he would “dream of” joining the Wagner group to “pay my debt to the Motherland”. He added a message to those who do not want mercenaries or prisoners to fight. “It’s either private military companies and prisoners, or your children – decide for yourself.”
Note that reference to “debt to the Motherland”. Putin never successfully built any loyalty to motherland, so it’s a bit late now to try and pull such an old, tired yarn. It falls flat especially because Putin is known for being dangerously jealous of loyalty to anything other than himself.
If loyalty to nation did work in recruiting military, one would have to wonder how far Putin could let that go before sensing a threat to his own power.
No rational military would have agreed to bumble its tanks into a hostile “non-war” after being told “Ukraine isn’t even a country“. He is known to move the goal-posts so often and serve only himself such that very few could really believe a win could mean anything to the country, only him.