By Paul Goble
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.
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.