Are Kremlin leaders Vladimir Putin (69) short of soldiers? Since the beginning of March, advertisements have been piling up on Russian job portals looking for “contract soldiers” – scouts, machine gunners, grenade launchers…
By Luisa Volkhausen
Candidates should be able to receive military training and be sent to the front within days, the BBC reported.
︎ BBC journalists took the test themselves and responded to several announcements. They pretended to be a 25-year-old student who knows how to drive an infantry fighting vehicle and is not afraid to go to Ukraine soon. The reactions of potential employers: they asked for details of the candidate’s biography and usually invited the potential soldier to a face-to-face meeting the next day. Several employers have already said over the phone how quickly the alleged candidate will be in the war zone and where exactly he will be sent.
“In 10 to 15 days at most, you will be fully formalized as a contract soldier. A short-term contract lasts three to six months – per year. And you go straight there,” he said in a “job interview.”
Typically, a standard initial contract for military service lasts two to five years. Short-term contracts of three to six months are possible under Russian law “in case of emergency”.
So is the Russian army in emergency mode? Does Putin lack soldiers?
The Kremlin leader has repeatedly stressed that the Russian army is made up of highly professional soldiers. BUT: The Russian army suffered heavy losses. Russia itself speaks of about 1,350 soldiers killed, Ukraine about 19,000 Russian soldiers killed since the beginning of the war. The two numbers are not independently verifiable.
“We have significant losses, it’s a huge tragedy for us,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Britain’s Sky News channel last week. “This is a very serious operation with serious consequences.”
It is not known how many contract soldiers are currently deployed for the Russian army. According to the BBC, there were already around 400,000 in 2020.
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Even before the war in Ukraine, contract soldiers were sought through job portals, according to the “HeadHunter” job portal. BUT: Since the end of February, the number of advertisements has increased considerably. There are 500 ads on “Superjob” alone, which are directly linked to the Russian Ministry of Defense website. All job postings are dated the same start date, April 13 – but the date is continually updated and pushed back.
Where secretaries, accountants or programmers are normally needed, Putin is now recruiting soldiers for his war in Ukraine. Many ads have standard text and are placed in multiple cities at the same time. The application process for contract soldier positions has also been simplified.
Higher pay for service in Ukraine
The requirements for candidates: low!
Several adverts the BBC has reviewed assume that education is no less than basic general education – that is, nine years of school. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, at least eleven years of schooling are usually required. Or the applicant must have attended a technical school for military service.
The salary offered for most ads is between 30,000 and 50,000 rubles per month, which is the equivalent of around 330 to 560 euros. But there are also advertisements with salary offers of up to 210,000 rubles (about 2,350 euros) per month – depending on military rank and position.
“If you are tired of changing jobs in search of better wages and conditions, if you want to live in your own apartment without paying a single ruble, then you should definitely find a job with us!” he says in an advertisement for the recruitment of contract soldiers in the Russian city of Ryazan.
The BBC journalist, who posed as the applicant, was even offered more money for his service in Ukraine.