Yesterday, SOFREP reported on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decree to increase their military forces to 2 million by 2023. While there are existing recruitment problems in the Russian military, Putin is optimistic that they will be able to fill in the gap. One way Kremlin is doing that is by pushing for immigration to Russia.

During an interview on the Russian-state TV show “Who’s Against?” Anna Revyakina, deputy chairwoman of the Public Chamber of the “so-called Donestk People’s Republic in occupied Ukraine,” expressed how attractive it is to be an immigrant in Russia nowadays. However, instead of highlighting their losses during the war and the potential insurgency within Russia’s general public, Revyakina said the government should push for more ways to attract foreigners to Russia.

“All of us Russians and our government should create maximally attractive conditions for the citizens of other countries to come to us, augmenting our population,” she said. “We have an enormous territory, a huge country, maybe not even fully developed, 140 million people—of course, we need more. Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] is concerned about this, with various programs for families with many children.”

Kremlin Moscow
St. Basil and the Kremlim Moscow. (Source: Mariano Mantel/Flickr)

She also said there are Russians who live in the Baltics, which could potentially add to the gap in their immigration numbers. However, Revyakina said they would have to be “loyal, in love with Russia and speaking the language.” Over the years, Russia has always aimed to educate residents of the Baltic states to learn the Russian language. They have the state media propagandists showing leisurely shows in the Russian language to encourage locals to speak and learn it.

Meanwhile, the gap also accounts for the massive losses in their workforce in the public and private sectors. Since the war started, as younger Russians enlisted, the economy depended on people working overtime, even during the weekends, holidays, and their days off. As if this was not enough, Russian propagandists even urged authorities to employ prisoners who fit certain qualifications.

“There’s nothing better than receiving a ready-made specialist, who already has an education and work experience,” Revyakina said.

Last year, a spokeswoman for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also appeared on state-TV “The Evening with Vladimir Solovyov” and claimed they were receiving a lot of inquiries from former US President Donald Trump’s supporters looking for Russian citizenship. However, there was no confirmation on whether the inquiries actually converted into positive Russian immigration.

These types of public conversations within state media are commonplace in Russia as they try to askew their citizens’ perception of what’s happening in the war. To appease those experiencing discontent, they would usually provide propagandist content that shows the advantages of being “loyal” and proud Russians.

1 Million Russians go to the EU

On the other hand, it has been reported that almost 1 million Russians have entered Europe through land border crossing points since the Ukraine-Russia War started. Furthermore, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) announced that their recent count is 998,085 Russian citizens who have legally entered the EU. But, they noted that these Russians held residence permits, valid visas, or dual citizenship.

Since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 998,085 Russian citizens have entered the EU through land border crossing points. Most of them arrived via Finland and Estonia. The majority are persons with residence permits/visas to the EU, or dual citizenship holders likely finding alternatives for restricted air connections,” Frontex wrote on its official Twitter account.

These travelers entered Lithuania, Poland, Latvia, and Estonia. Compared to these countries, Norway recorded the lowest number of entries of Russians since February. Only 8,052 Russian nationals were reported to have entered Norway during this period.

President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin during the address “On the conduct of a special military operation” on February 24, 2022. (Source: Presidential Executive Office of Russia/Wikimedia)

These figures have become alarming for other nations in the EU as more state leaders encourage a total ban on Russian residents from traveling to the EU. As of writing, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland have stopped issuing new tourist visas to Russians, while Estonia has barred entry to Russians who have visas. On the other hand, Finland is still screening entrants and vowed that they would limit tourist application approval by 90% starting Sept. 1.

As for the Czech government, they announced that they would be imposing higher costs and processing times for Russians who are entering their country starting next week.

Recognizing the danger of wealthy and affluent Russians bugging out for the EU, and the effect it can have on the Russian economy, Putin may suspend the right of Russians to travel outside its borders and order the immediate recall of those who have already left for a safe haven home in the EU.

As the Russian population gets pushed to the corner, many wonder if Putin can really back his decree to increase their numbers by millions.  If so, are these Russian PR stunts effective?