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Russian Occupiers Now Recruiting ‘Volunteers’ Among Ukrainian Population To Fight Kyiv – OpEd

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In yet another sign of the Russian command’s efforts to make up for losses in the war in Ukraine, Russian military commissariats are recruiting “volunteers” to fight against Kyiv, volunteers who experience has shown the Russian army is far more likely to use as canon fodder than its own.

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Yevgeny Balitsky, the head of the occupation administration in Zaporozhe says that his government is compiling lists of those who want to serve in “volunteer battalions … for defense against Ukrainian forces.” But only a few more than 200 men have signed up, an indication that this effort is hardly a great success (tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/14912109).

There is evidence that these men are far from volunteers. Those who sign up are moved to locations in the Russian Federation, something that makes it far more difficult for them to flee. But the Russian occupiers are telling them that they won’t be used in actual fighting, although that is clearly the intent (graniru.org/Politics/World/Europe/Ukraine/m.285317.html).

Ukrainian officials have reported cases of Russian efforts to form such units for more than a month, but only now is the Russian side acknowledging them, an indication that Moscow wants to take some pressure off its own units and to suggest to increasingly leery Russians that it is using Ukrainians rather than Russians to fight the war.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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