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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Cold and insufficient material in the chaotic Russian mobilization

The mobilized reservoir at the firing range southeast of Moscow, visited by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, looked perfect in the picture.

Kremlin videos of youths preparing for war in Ukraine showed them in ancient uniforms and equipped with everything they needed for the war: helmets, bulletproof vests and sleeping bags. When Putin asked him if he had a problem, he nodded.

This view is in stark contrast to the many ongoing complaints in Russian and on social media about lack of equipment, poor living conditions and poor training for new recruits.

Ever since Putin announced the 9/21 mobilization, independent media, human rights activists and soldiers have painted a bleak picture of a dangerous, chaotic and ethnically biased operation to get as many men as possible and get them quickly. to be dragged to the front lines. skills, training, or equipment.

Videos on Russian social media showed recruited men complaining of overcrowded and dirty barracks, toilets full of garbage and lack of food and medicine. In some, the men displayed rusted weapons.

In one video, a group of recruits gathered in a field say they were left there without food or shelter. Others showed men forced to sleep on bare benches or buried in the ground.

“We didn’t look for you, you called us. Look, look at this! How long can this go on?” In a recording a desperate man asks.

Putin’s decree for partial mobilization did not specify the recruitment criteria or how many would be. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said it would affect only 300,000 reservists with relevant combat or service experience.

Protests against the Levy have been vigorously suppressed and thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid being admitted to neighboring countries.

A week after the decree, a young man opened fire on a recruiting officer in the Siberian city of Ust-Ilimsk, seriously injuring him. On 15 October there was a shootout at a training camp in the southern region of Belgorod in which 11 people were killed and 15 were injured. Recruitment offices and other administrative buildings have also been set ablaze.

It has become clear that in a country where almost all men under the age of 65 are registered as reservoirs, the process of mobilization was not meticulously done. There are abundant reports of summons on people with no military experience. Police stopped men on the streets of Moscow and other cities, or raided hostels to corner guests of fighting age. Mandatory medical check-ups were often skipped by recruiting offices.

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Military analyst Pavel Luzhin said in an interview that the quick call-up would hardly do anything other than “slow down the progress” of Ukrainian troops in the war that began eight months ago.

Luzin, a visiting professor at Tufts University’s Fletcher School, said Moscow is simply “plaguing Ukraine”.

Activists also say that members of ethnic minorities have been disproportionately recruited in some areas. Videos were released of protests in the Muslim-majority region of Dagestan, with families claiming that more recruits were gathering there than anywhere else.

In Russia’s far north and on the border with Mongolia, indigenous citizens were “detained in their villages” as part of the mobilization, Vladimir Budaev of the Free Buryatia Foundation told the Associated Press.

In remote areas of Sakha and Buryatia, recruits conducted taiga combat for potential troops and “issued summons to everyone,” he said.

Buryatia has seen a mobilization rate six times higher than the European regions of Russia, said Yekaterina Moreland, an ethnic Buryat volunteer with the Asian for Russia Foundation.

In the first two weeks of the operation, officials in some areas said they had sent hundreds of recruited men home despite not meeting the criteria.

“The function of a military enlistment office is to recruit, recruit who they can grab,” said Elena Popova, coordinator of the Conscious Objector Movement.

Putin himself acknowledged “mistakes” in the process and called for reform.

But even when citations went to people who had served in the military, it didn’t mean they had combat experience. Some ex-servicemen often did not receive adequate training during their service and instead took up service assignments.

A woman who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal said her 31-year-old husband had completed his compulsory military service six years ago and that he had “neither received instruction at the firing range nor No combat exercises on the ground”, but the officers tried to recruit him anyway.

In fact, he only held a gun in his hand once, when he was taught how to disassemble and reassemble an automatic rifle, he explained. Mainly “they swept (complicated), they cleared the ice”.

Relatives of the recruits said they had to spend their own money to get supplies and basic supplies. Groups were formed on the Internet to raise money to buy the equipment.

One such campaign was led by state TV presenter and Kremlin-backed MP Yevgeny Popov, who said that the reservists of the Taman Artillery Division had received shoes and clothing, but that they had “drones, walkie-talkies, maps with There was a serious shortage of smartphones (for gunners), binoculars, headlights (and backup batteries), ”he said.

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Russian media reported the deaths of several reservists in Ukraine and their relatives told the press that they had received very few instructions.

Asked by a journalist why many reservists were killed in Ukraine just three weeks after being recruited, Putin confirmed that the training could last between 10 and 25 days.

Russia does not have the capacity to train thousands of men, said military analyst Luzhin. “The army was not ready for mobilization. He never prepared for it,” he said.

Putin has promised to complete the mobilization by November, when a general fall call-up is scheduled. Military experts and rights groups say enlistment offices and training camps cannot process the two operations at the same time, warning that calls could resume months after schedule.

By mid-October, 222,000 reservoirs had been deposited, Putin said. It was not clear whether it would be possible to recruit another 80,000 people in the remaining two weeks.

Although there are no longer hordes of Russian men fleeing the country and street protests have practically stopped, there are some who do protest.

Independent and opposition media have published instructions to legally stop the call to arms. Rights groups advise men not to sign citations, requiring them to officially surrender, and not to go to recruiting offices.

Few men apply for the alternative civil service, a right lawyers say is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Kirill Berezin, 27, responded to a summons passed under the door of his St. Petersburg apartment by going to a recruiting office to apply for alternative civilian service, but was still taken to a military division, his friend Marina said. .

Berezin, who has since been at a training center in southern Russia, presented a document to his commanders stating that “he cannot serve with weapons, he cannot kill people and help those who do so.” can’t” because it is “contrary to my conscience.”

Tsyganova told the Associated Press that she represented him in a St Petersburg court that dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying only regular recruits under the age of 27 were eligible for alternative civilian service. His defense team plans to appeal, she said, and at least hope that he will not be sent to Ukraine until the legal battle continues.

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This dispatch was compiled from outside Russia by the Associated Press.

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