Site icon Promote Ukraine

Russia Stepping Up Recruitment of Mercenaries for War in Donbas

There is a significant shortage of personnel in the armed formations “DPR” and “LPR.” According to Pavlo Lysyansky, director of the Institute for Strategic Studies and Security, the command of the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation conducted an audit of the so-called 1st and 2nd Army Corps located in the self-proclaimed republics in November and December last year. The results of this inspection revealed that the lack of human resources in these divisions reached 33-39%. Once the shortage was discovered, the recruitment of militants for Donbas stepped up in Russia.

Attempts to forcibly call up for service in the illegal armed formations of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions (CADLR) were unsuccessful. Such intentions took place in April last year, but the leaders of separatists immediately felt the unpopularity of the move and quickly called the mobilisation a “trial.”. To date, according to the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, “the results of the recruiting drive of the military commissariats of the Russian occupation administrations remain unsatisfactory. The occupiers are unable to provide their units with a sufficient number of recruits from the population of the temporarily occupied territory of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. In view of the above, the enemy intensified the recruitment of mercenaries through a network of relevant centres in Russia, sending them to serve under contract through the non-government-controlled sections of the border.”

In the opinion of the experts of the Centre for Defence Strategies, the probability of aggravation in Donbas is quite high. This area may be the point of escalation of the conflict. As Ukrainian military intelligence reports, the Russian Federation keeps delivering new equipment and fuel to CADLR. Moscow can easily supply the occupied Donbas with weapons and ammunition. But equipment and weapons need specialists. Here problems start to arise. The website of the Union of Volunteers of Donbas, a non-governmental organisation uniting Russian participants in the fighting in Ukraine, has published a pathetic announcement about the formation of units to “defend” against Ukrainian aggression.” However, according to an investigation by the independent media outlet Meduza, very few former militants are ready to return to the trenches of Donbas. Among the reasons for refusal, mercenaries mention uncertain legal status (retired officers, acting as recruiters, suggest signing a contract with the Ministry of Defence, but de jure they are not representatives of this agency), doubts about the payment of declared salaries (RUB 160,000-320,000), and high risk of death or injury in battles against the regular Ukrainian army.

Over the past eight years, the range of use of Russian mercenaries has expanded significantly: Syria, Libya, Central African Republic, Tajikistan. As a result, militants from the Wagner PMC and other similar formations have a choice of where to be “soldiers of fortune.” As a rule, Ukraine is not one of their priorities. There is a kind of leadership crisis: all well-known field commanders who led “militia” units in 2014-2015 either died (Zakharchenko, Givi, Motorola) or found themselves in opposition to the political leadership of the self-proclaimed republics (Girkin, Bezler, Khodakovsky) or, as Alexander Borodai, an incumbent member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, went to the Russian policy. The experience of a commander is one of the key factors that mercenaries take into account when choosing a unit to fight in.

If the shortage of personnel in Donbas cannot be covered at the expense of “volunteers,” Russia has only one option left – to involve military personnel. There are two possible scenarios: either to do it covertly, calling them retired or vacationers in case of exposure, or to act openly. For the latter, a special casus belli is needed (imitation of the Ukrainian offensive, for example), which Moscow will use as a reason for deploying its army in Donbas.

Stepan Nazarenko

Exit mobile version