Russian President Vladimir Putin has made a nationwide mobilization of about 300,000 reservists, and it was faced with mixed reactions. Many fled to European borders, while others were firm in their stance to fight for their Russo-motherland. Others took the streets, but as you can expect from Russia, they were collected by local authorities and put in jail.
And after this announcement, it was reported that these new recruits were now being deployed to the frontlines with just days of training, becoming “cannon fodder” for Ukrainian attacks. According to reports, Putin announced last Friday that 16,000 new recruits have just been deployed for combat. Looking at the timeline of the mobilization announcement, it seems like these men were either military reserves who already had training before or younger men who had limited to no experience in combat training. The Times also reported that most recruits had less than 10 days of training. One of the conscripts admitted he only held a gun once.
Another anonymous source told The Times that draft recruits in Yekaterinburg (central Russia) were seen marching on the streets in their casual attire, with “no machine guns, nothing, no clothes, no shoes.” The Observer added that half of those lined up looked too old, too frail to even be in battle.
“Half of them are hungover, old, at risk—the ambulance should be on duty.”
Some Russian citizens agree as they see these new Russian soldiers getting their supplies passed on from training centers.
“This is not how it’s done,” said one of the women interviewed.
“They are giving them at best basics and at worst nothing and throwing them into combat, which suggests that these guys are just literally cannon fodder,” said William Alberque, a specialist in the Russian armed forces and the director of the arms control program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
Theoretically, the mobilization should only call in reservists who had initial training from the military, but the reality is far from it.
“The result of the mobilization is that untrained guys are thrown onto the front line,” Anastasia Kashevarova, a military blogger who has supported the war, wrote in an angry post, one of several such broadsides.
“Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Moscow — zinc coffins are already coming. You told us that there would be training, that they would not be sent to the front line in a week. Were you lying again?”
More videos were seen as Russian soldiers voluntarily surrendering to the Ukrainian army. One video showed 500 men saying they felt lost since they were not assigned to any unit and had lived in “inhuman conditions” for a week now, especially since they were the ones buying their own food and ammunition.
This rings true for families affected by the mobilization. Alexei Martynov, a 28-year-old Russian government employee, was one of the first soldiers sent to the frontlines on Sept. 23. Then, on Oct. 10, his father got a message saying his son had died.
“My son has died, what am I for? We don’t know anything more than what was put on the internet,” Martynov’s father told the Observer.
Before this, Martynov reportedly served in the Semyonovsky regiment, “whose main activities are ceremonial.”
Natalya Loseva, the deputy editorial director of the RT television channel, confirmed Martynov had no combat experience.
“He was sent to the front within just a few days. He died heroically on Oct. 10.”
Loseva also called out to Russian leaders to speak up and face reality.
“Military leaders, now is not the time to lie. You have no right to lie and now it is a crime.”
And for there were also instances where the new recruits died before even starting to serve in the war. According to local outlet EAN, six newly mobilized Russian soldiers have been killed on the way to their respective units.
“I confirm that three people have died,” federal lawmaker Maxim Ivanov told EAN. “One of the mobilized men died from a heart attack and another committed suicide. The third one was discharged and sent home, where he died from cirrhosis of the liver.”
Russia is still looking for a “positive spin on the call-up,” saying they will be preparing 80 training grounds and six educational centers. However, it may be too late to appease the families of the soldiers who have died in battle after they were sent with no basic resources or training.
“The Russian military leadership is continuing to compromise the future reconstitution of the force by prioritizing the immediate mobilization of as many bodies as possible for ongoing fighting in Ukraine,” the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War said in a recent assessment.