Putin desperate as Russian army exploiting neighbouring countries for soldiers

Russia is “exploiting foreign nationals” by offering huge cash incentives and even blackmailing others to fight in its war in Ukraine, the British Ministry of Defence has reported.

More than 120,000 Russians have died in Ukraine in the last 19 months of war, according to the latest US estimates, with a further 180,000 taken off the battlefield due to injuries.

Hoping to avoid unpopularity on the mainland, Putin has explored numerous means of plugging these losses without ordering a mobilisation.

In the past few months alone, the Russian Ministry of Defence has raised the salary of soldiers in Ukraine to nearly triple the national wage, forced the country’s top universities to accept the underqualified children of those taking part in the “special military operation” and has pushed short term contracts for younger reservists.

In its latest update, the British MoD said Russia has begun “appealing to citizens of neighbouring countries” as part of its new campaign to maintain its war in Ukraine.

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The update read: “As of late June 2023, Russia has been appealing to citizens of neighbouring countries with recruitment adverts for individuals to fight in Ukraine.

“Online adverts have been observed in Armenia and Kazakhstan offering 495,000 roubles (£4,000) in initial payments and salaries from 190,000 roubles (£1,600).

“There have been recruitment efforts in Kazakhstan’s northern Qostanai region, appealing to the ethnic Russian population.

“Since at least May 2023, Russia has approached central Asian migrants to fight in Ukraine with promises of fast-track citizenship and salaries of up to £3,300.”

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They added: “Uzbek migrant builders in Mariupol have reportedly had their passports confiscated upon arrival and been coerced to join the Russian military.

“There are at least six million migrants from Central Asia in Russia, which the Kremlin likely sees as potential recruits.

“Russia likely wishes to avoid further unpopular domestic mobilisation measures in the run up to the 2024 Presidential elections.

“Exploiting foreign nationals allows the Kremlin to acquire additional personnel for its war effort in the face of mounting casualties.”

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Pavel Luzin, an expert on Russian foreign and defence policy at the Centre for European Policy Analysis, told Express.co.uk that the Kremlin is desperately trying to “expand the room for manoeuvre” in hiring more soldiers to fight in Ukraine.

He said an increase in short term contracts for younger soldiers, as well as contract extensions for troops in the “active mobilisation reserve” were part of a wider programme to counter the “operative and strategic uncertainty related to the combat situation”.

This latest strategy involving foreign forces is likely yet another attempt to overcome these issues.

By comparison, Ukrainian losses are estimated at 70,000, a figure that has risen sharply since their counteroffensive began on June 4. US estimates suggest their wounded number roughly 120,000 to 130,000.

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