By Paul Goble
In order to fill the depleted ranks of the Russian army fighting in Ukraine, Moscow is making it easier for persons with dual citizenship to be drafted and serve and for those with citizenship in other countries to volunteer to serve in the Russian armed forces.
As a result, Anatoly Tsyganok, a retired colonel who heads the Moscow Center for Military Predictions, says that “residents of Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea or Iran” may soon be serving in the Russian military. He says that in March, some in the defense ministry said “more than 16,000” people in the Middle East alone wanted to.
But far larger numbers are likely to come as a result of three other changes in Russian law. First, Moscow can now draft persons with dual Russian-non-Russian citizenships who are resident in the Russian Federation. Second, it promises to give even more expedited paths to citizenship to CIS nationals who serve in the army.
And third, it is opening the way for volunteers from foreign countries without many restrictions, although this is reportedly unpopular with many commanders who fear that an influx of such people into the Russian ranks will lead to a decay in unit cohesion and even open conflicts as has already happened (versia.ru/migrantov-zovut-na-sluzhbu-v-rossijskuyu-armiyu).
Another constraint on this program is that some countries, including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan from which come many immigrants in Russia, have already warned their nationals that they will face criminal penalties if they take part in a military operation conducted by a foreign government, in this case, the Russian Federation.
But what is most important about this report is that it shows just how many difficulties the Russian authorities are facing in raising forces by traditional means, the draft and volunteering from among Russians, and how willing Moscow now is to do whatever is necessary to find more bodies.