Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to a firing range southeast of Moscow last week by mobilized reservists looked picture-perfect.
A Kremlin video of young men heading to war in Ukraine showed young men in like-new uniforms with all the equipment they needed for combat: helmets, bulletproof vests and sleeping bags. They shook their heads when I asked if there was a problem.
This contrasts with widespread complaints in Russian news media and social media about lack of equipment, poor living conditions and poor training of recruits.
Since Putin announced the mobilization on September 21, independent media, human rights activists, and those convened have painted the picture. A dark image of the haphazard, chaotic and ethnically biased efforts to recruit as many men as possible. Push quickly to the front lines, regardless of skill, training, or equipment.
Videos posted on Russian social networks showed conscripted men complaining about cramped and unclean accommodations, garbage-filled toilets and lack of food and medicine. Some showed men sporting rusty weapons.
In one video, a group of conscripted people roamed a field claiming they were left without food or housing. There were also clips depicting men forced to sleep on bare benches or crammed into the floor.
“We didn’t look for you. You called us. Look at this! How long can this go on?” an exasperated voice says in the video.
Putin’s decree on partial mobilization does not outline the criteria for conscription, nor does it say how many will be called up. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said it would only affect about 300,000 reservists with relevant combat or service experience.
Conscription protests were severely suppressed, Tens of thousands of men fled Russia To neighboring countries to avoid being forced into service.
The week after the proclamation, a young man Shooting Recruiters in Ust-Ilimsk, Siberia, seriously injuring him. October 15th, 11 killed, 15 wounded in gunfight at training camp in southern Belgorod regionThe enlistment office and other administration buildings were also set on fire.
In a country where almost all men under the age of 65 are registered as part of a reserve, it is now clear that the mobilization process was not carefully followed. Reports are pouring in that drafts have been issued to those who have never served in the military. Police have rounded up men on the streets of Moscow and other cities, and raided lodgings and arrested guests of fighting age. Enlistment offices often skipped required health checks.
Military analyst Pavel Luzhin said in an interview that a hasty call-up would accomplish nothing but “slow the advance” of Ukrainian forces in the war eight months ago.
Luzin, a visiting fellow at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said Moscow was simply “prolonging the suffering” in Ukraine.
Activists also say minorities were recruited in disproportionate numbers in some areas. Videos of protests in Muslim-majority areas of Dagestan have circulated, with relatives complaining that the area offers more recruits than elsewhere.
Vladimir Budaev of the Free Buryatia Foundation told the Associated Press that indigenous peoples along the Russian Far North and Mongolian border were “rounded up in their villages” during the drive.
In the remote areas of Sakha and Buryatia, enlistment officers scoured the taiga for potential conscripts and “handed out summonses to anyone they met,” he said.
Buryatia has seen mobilization rates that are up to six times higher than the European part of Russia, according to Ekaterina Morland, a Buryat ethnic volunteer at the Asian Foundation of Russia.
In the first two weeks of the call-up, authorities in some areas reported sending home hundreds of men who had been drafted despite not meeting the standards.
Elena Popova, coordinator of the Conscientious Objector Movement, said, “The job of the military enlistment office is to recruit. Anyone they can get their hands on.
Putin himself publicly acknowledged the “mistakes” in the process and demanded improvements.
However, even if conscripted, those who have served in the military do not necessarily have combat skills. Some former conscripts often do not receive proper military training while on duty and instead engage in menial labor.
One woman, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said her 31-year-old husband had completed a mandatory mission six years ago and “was trained on the firing range and trained in field combat. I didn’t,” he said. She said the authorities tried to draft him anyway.
In fact, he only held the weapon once when he was shown how to disassemble and reassemble an automatic rifle. she added.
Conscript relatives reported having to spend their own money on equipment and basic necessities. An online group was formed to fund the equipment.
One campaign was run by Evgeny Popov, a Kremlin-backed parliamentarian and state television host. He said Taman artillery reservists got shoes and clothes, but “drones, walkie-talkies, smartphones with maps (for gunners), binoculars, headlamps (and) power banks,” he said. .
Russian media have reported the deaths of reservists in Ukraine, and their relatives told the press they had little training.
When asked by reporters why several reservists died in Ukraine just three weeks after being called up, Putin admitted the training could last as short as 10 days and as long as 25 days.
Military analyst Luzin said Russia could not train hundreds of thousands of soldiers. “The army was not ready for mobilization. It was not ready,” he said.
Putin promised to complete the mobilization drive by November, when the regular fall draft is scheduled.Military experts and rights groups say the enlistment office and training camps cannot handle both at the same time. He warned that the convocation could resume in a few months.
As of mid-October, 222,000 reservists have been recruited, Putin said.
While many Russian men are no longer fleeing the country and street protests have all but stopped, there are still those who resist the effort.
Independent and opposition-leaning media have published instructions on how to legally circumvent the call. Rights groups have advised the man not to sign the subpoena. This is necessary in order to be considered legally served.
Some men are seeking alternative civil servants, a right guaranteed by the constitution, lawyers say.
Kirill Berezin, 27, went to the enlistment office to apply for a replacement civil service in response to a call-up notice tucked under the door of his St. I was taken. , Marina Tsyganova.
Berezin, who was then sent to a training facility in the south of Russia, submitted a document to his commander stating that he “cannot work with weapons, cannot kill people, and cannot help those who do.” my conscience.
Tsyganova told AP that she represented him in a St. Petersburg court. A court dismissed Berezin’s case last week, saying only regular conscripts under the age of 27 are eligible for replacement civil service. His legal team plans to appeal, and hopes, at the very least, that he will not be sent to Ukraine while the legal battle is ongoing.
The story was reported by the Associated Press from outside Russia.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine. https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
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