Russia ‘desperate for more men’ as suspicions of a national draft for Ukraine war increase

Ukraine: Smoke rises from Russian occupied Shakhtarsk

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Russia’s military might has been widely criticised since the beginning of the conflict in Ukraine in February. With reports of faulty and old equipment, deserting troops, the use of nonconsenting conscripts, and a lack of military strategy, it is no surprise people in Russia are fearful of a national draft.

Four Russian soldiers have released videos from Chechnya about their negative experiences following six weeks of fighting in Ukraine.

One complained that a local hospital refused to remove pieces of shrapnel that was in his body while Nikolai Lipa spoke of being denied a promised sum of $2,000 (£1,669).

Such comments were scolded on television by an aide to Ramzan Kadyrov, the despot who runs Chechnya.

Soon afterwards the soldiers were saying the opposite of their complaints with Mr Lipa saying: “I was paid much more than they promised”.

The speed of withdrawing such comments demonstrates the fear from Russia of negativity being spread about their military when they still need more recruits.

According to Kamil Galeev, an independent Russian analyst and former fellow at The Wilson Centre in Washington: “Russia has a problem with recruitment and mobilisation.

“It is basically desperate to get more men using any means possible.”

While a national draft is politically hazardous, many analysts believe the Kremlin is already using a “stealth mobilisation” to recruit new troops without a draft.

According to the analysts this method involves exploiting the impoverished ethnic minorities, mercenaries, Ukrainians from the separatist regions and militarised National Guard units and by offering cash to volunteers.

Recruitment officers have been calling up reservists and offering cash in exchange for short deployments to Ukraine.

Those who specialise within areas of the military are being targeted by regional recruitment officers for the Ministry of Defence who have thousands of job adverts for military specialties.

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The Kremlin will be keen to avoid all instances of a national draft to call up all adult males to fight so it can continue its deceit of saying to the Russian people that it is carrying out a ‘special military operation’.

To a certain extent it will also prevent the damage that happened at the end of Russian military shambles such as the first Chechen War and in Afghanistan.

According to experts, while Ukraine is also similarly suffering from a depleted professional military, they gain a lot from enthusiastic and resilient volunteers.

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