“Cannon fodder” – that’s how you can characterise the numerous Russian volunteer units being formed all over Russia. Instead of “wasting” their professional military, the Russians rely on marginalised volunteers who could not serve in the regular army in peacetime, the international volunteer community Inform Napalm reports.

However, one should not treat the Russian volunteer units with contempt. The degree of hatred for Ukraine and the thirst for easy money make a large number of former employees of security agencies go to war with Ukraine. The Inform Napalm experts also point out that retired military personnel may also join such units. Almost all of them somehow managed to fight somewhere, because the Russians have never lived in peace. Former police officers may join. The Russians actively engaged “police” units in all the Chechen wars. Working trips to Chechnya and Dagestan are routine for Russian police officers.

“Moreover, after the USSR collapsed, the Russians have been reducing the army size constantly, ‘releasing’ hundreds of thousands of former professional soldiers. In addition to professionals, hundreds of thousands of Russian conscripts who were ‘lucky’ to fight in hot spots went to the war,” the analysis reads.

In parallel with the downsizing of the army, the Russians increased the number of security structures. The Russian Guard became a kind of shadow army, the FSB was building up its influence, and Shoigu facilitated the development of his “native” Ministry of Emergency Situations. Besides, there have been various “paramilitary” structures, such as the Cossacks, numerous private security companies, and the overall militarisation of society. So, there are enough people in Russia who know how to handle weapons.

To sum up, Inform Napalm notes that a salary of at least RUB 200,000 per month, promised combat pay, employment record, war veteran status, all kinds of regional and federal payments for injuries and in case of death motivate tens of thousands of Russians to fight against Ukraine as “volunteers.”

Natalia Tolub

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