RUSSIA – Russia’s biannual conscription campaign, in which all eligible men are assessed and assigned to military formations, began a few months ago. This system has been used for centuries, although it has been modernized in recent years by replacing paper notices with electronic notices. Young men are required to report to military recruiting centers twice a year, in the fall and spring.
Every year, men try to avoid serving their country in the military by doing things like going to college, going overseas, or claiming a disability. This made conscription the norm for lower socioeconomic classes. The army insisted that the conscripts belong to their units and went to great lengths to assure the public that these people would not be deployed to Ukraine.
However, things may look very different after this weekend’s failed coup by the paramilitary group Wagner, and young Russians may be even less eager to accept their appeal orders. Even in Soviet times, some members of the Russian armed forces felt the need to avoid further service. Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s defense minister until the end of last year and a former conscript in the Soviet army, remarked: “I was hoping that I wouldn’t be sent to Afghanistan. A lot of young Russian conscripts, I guess now, are praying for an end to the war so they don’t have to waste their lives fighting the Ukrainians.
Corruption has left many Russian soldiers starving, wearing ill-fitting uniforms and short of crucial gear during combat, and widespread and harsh hazing of conscripts has persisted since the fall of the Soviet Union. Many Russians feared that the government would renege on its vow not to deploy conscripts in the “special military operation” in Ukraine during the spring conscription, knowing full well that the Russian army was undermanned there and had to rely on the Wagner. Group as a palliative measure. The truth is that Russia has already sent some people there and others have been forced to join the army as contract troops rather than conscripts. However, Russia rarely uses conscripts in large numbers for the sake of public opinion.