A bit of a lighthearted note before we get started here. Doesn’t the Russian recruiting blow-up guy look slightly like Stan’s dad on South Park? Sometimes we find humor in the strangest places.

A Shadow Mobilization

Amid a sea of refuseniks saying “nyet!” when being told to return to combat in Ukraine, almost 30,000 combat casualties, and the majority of Russian millennials wanting nothing to do with military service, President Vladimir Putin has a big problem on his hands. Not many military-aged Russian folks are keen on participating in his “special military operation.” Desperate times call for desperate measures, and the Kremlin has resorted to putting smiling, fingerless blow-up dolls outside of mobile recruiting stations as a way of trying to lure in recruits.

As this video from The Telegraph clearly illustrates, some Russians are out to destroy their recruitment centers using violent means. Video courtesy of YouTube and The Telegraph.

As you can see, things aren’t going well in the soldier recruiting department for the Kremlin. Still, they have declined to order a general mobilization of draft-aged soldiers (18-27). Doing so would be an admission to the world of what we already know; Putin’s war in Ukraine isn’t going well. Their military is stretched wafer-thin.

Remember when you were in high school, and recruiters would call your house? It was usually at meal time and would tick off your mom. Russian military recruiters have taken to doing that; cold calling military-aged men. I would suppose it has the same effect on them now as it did on us then. People hate cold calls from recruiters. The move shows desperation. Recruiters are also trying to reactivate reservists.

Ancient Russian T-62 tanks are being moved to Ukraine. What does this tell me? Well, a lot of things, but the one that pertains most to this story is the fact that reserve units use these relics (I’m talking 60 years old). Activating them implies that reserve units will be called up and sent to fight.

Mr. Micheal Kofman is the director of Russia studies at the Center for Naval Analyses (CNA) think tank. In a recent analysis of the Kremlin’s recruiting efforts, he wrote,