Ukraine: Discontent 'is growing' amongst Russians says Ashurkov
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However, one mother has railed at the Russian authorities after her son was killed just days after signing up – and accused them of treating the country’s young men like “cannon fodder”. In St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, a message broadcast over loudspeakers last week announced: “Two volunteer artillery battalions are being formed. We invite men from 18 to 60 years old to join.”
Putin’s henchmen are understood to be offering people large sums of cash, land and places in elite schools for their children in a bid to persuade them to volunteer.
They have even visited prisons in search of recruits, offering them freedom and money.
Speaking to the BBC, Nina Chubarina, from a village in Karelia in northern Russia, said her son Yevgeny was persuaded, and signed up for a volunteer battalion, despite having no military training.
The 24-year-old was given a gun, sent to the front, and killed within a few days.
Ms Chubarina said: “I tried to talk him out of it. I cried. I said, ‘There’s a war, you’ll be killed!’ He said, ‘Mum, everything will be fine.’
“They just send them in like dumb little chickens! They’d hardly even held a gun before.
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“They’re cannon fodder. The generals think, ‘We’ve got a volunteer: great, in you go!'”
Investigative journalist Roman Dobrokhotov said the latest push for new recruits was a clear sign of the Putin regime’s mounting desperation.
He explained: “This is not the type of soldiers needed for a victorious war. The Kremlin still hopes that quantity can win over quality.
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“That they can get these hundreds of thousands of desperate people with their debts and just throw them into the conflict zone.”
Officially the amounts on offer – up to £4,700 a month in some cases – are potentially life-changing.
However, Mr Dobrokhotov, who is also one of the founders of the liberal 5th of December Party and who has been arrested by the Russian authorities on several occasions, said it was unlikely most volunteers would ever see the money.
He added: “They are returning from Ukraine now and telling us journalists about how they were deceived.
“This is also influencing the situation, this lack of trust in our government, so I don’t think this strategy will be successful.”
Writing on Facebook yesterday, Dmytro Pletenchuk, a press officer for the Mykolaiv Oblast Military Administration in southern Ukraine, claimed Putin was drafting Chechen units into the Kherson region in an apparent bid to stem the tide of mass desertions.
He posted: “More and more Kadyrovsty arrive in Kherson region as a force police unit.
“These units rely on occupation functions and parallel control of deserters from military formations that are not of Chechen ethnicity.”
The word Kadyrovsty is a reference to Ramzan Kadyrov, the highly controversial leader of the Russian republic Chechnya.
A statement issued by the Pentagon last month cited multiple reports of Russian soldiers deserting their posts.
It added: “We continue to see increased signs of discipline and morale problems in the Russian army.
“The Ukrainian will continues to be incredibly strong. And what we’re seeing is that will kind of push the Russians around pretty decently.”
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