By Paul Goble
It is no common ground that the latest batch of Russian recruits often sent to Ukraine will little or no training commit atrocities and otherwise behave badly once they are in that neighboring country. But Russians who live near their assembly sites say they were bad news long before they crossed the border.
Residents of two of these villages, Mulino in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast and Totskoye-2 in Orenburg Oblast, tell the Holod news agency that these “soldiers” regularly appear drunk in the streets, insult local women, and leave behind “mountains of trash,” an indication of their qualities before being shipped out (holod.media/2022/08/17/lyudej-nabirayut-na-myaso/).
Soldiers often misbehave under the stress and shock of battle, but what this reportage shows is that Russian officials were in a position to know and may have even encouraged bad behavior in these new recruits and thus bear additional responsibility for any crimes the soldiers commit in Ukraine.
And at the same time, these reports suggest that the rot within the Russian military is far more deeply embedded than even Ukrainian victims and observers have said, that it is endemic to Russian military culture, and that rooting it out is going to take more than just the defeat of the Russian army in the field.