The problems seem to be running toward Russia at an unusual rate as it battles numerous problems relating to its invasion of Ukraine. This war has revealed a number of weaknesses in the Russian military. Amid rising casualties in Ukraine, Russia is now considering allowing Russians over the age of 40 and foreigners over the age of 30 to sign up and join the Russian military service.

In this new bill, Russia extended their recruitment of soldiers to above 40 and set up their own international legion of fighters as Ukraine did to offset the numbers during the early onset of the war.

“For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons, and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed. Experience shows that they become such by the age of 40–45,” the State Duma said.

“Clearly, the Russians are in trouble. This is the latest attempt to address manpower shortages without alarming their own population. But it is growing increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to disguise their failures in Ukraine,” Retired US General and former commander of US Army Forces in Europe Ben Hodges said.

2019 Moscow Military Victory Day Parade. Military parade on Red Square to mark the 74th anniversary of Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. (Kremlin.ruCC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

The Russians may not be publishing the number of casualties it has incurred over the past four months in Ukraine; however, its continued efforts to recruit fighters into its ranks definitely give the world a sneak peek into the current numbers of the Russian forces.

Russia is a country that utilizes conscription to bolster its military and helps it to become ready for any conflict, such as the case with today’s invasion of Ukraine. Conscription seasons in Russia happen from April 1 to July 15 and October 1 to December 31. This is mandatory for all male Russian citizens from 18 to 27, serving one year.

To avoid getting conscripted, a valid health concern must be presented to the authorities. However, the Russian conscription system is known to be one of the most corrupt in the world and is quite easy to surpass with the right amount of money and knowing the right people. Individuals who are part of the Russian elite can simply bribe their way off the hook, while members of the poorer socioeconomic classes in Russia have no choice but to serve their mandatory military service.

With over 29,200 troops dead, according to Ukrainian estimates, and with the British Defense Ministry estimating that Russia has lost 1/3 of its initial invasion, it is not surprising that the Russian military has been doing all it can to replenish its numbers on the battlefield.

Despite their increased efforts, nobody seems to want to join the military over in Russia. SOFREP reported earlier in April that they had been struggling to recruit new soldiers as word has gotten out about the way Russia treats its soldiers – like garbage. We’ve seen evidence that the Russian troops are not getting the support they need from their superiors, with something as basic as MREs not being available to them. Expired MREs, no fuel, and their comrades being dumped into random mass graves, it is a no-brainer why Russian men are hiding from mandatory conscription as they know they are likely going to die in Ukraine.

Putin had signed a decree last March 31 ordering 134,500 new conscripts for the Russian Armed Forces as part of the yearly draft. It’s unknown whether they got to their numbers. However, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that their increased recruitment was not at all related to the ongoing war in Ukraine. It appears nobody from the West nor Russian men believes that as reports of conscripts being lied to and coerced to be sent to Ukraine have been widespread. Note that Russian law prohibits conscripts with less than four months of service from being sent to active war zones, so the Russians found a loophole by calling it a “special military operation” so that they would not have to comply with their own laws; as a result, a slaughter among these conscripts unsued in Ukraine.

“Most military personnel will undergo professional training in training centers for three to five months. Let me emphasize that recruits will not be sent to any hot spots,” Shoigu said.

Dead Russian soldiers abandoned by their Russian comrades in Kharkiv, possibly to hide their casualties thus the need for new recruits (@BWhiteSwan). Source: https://twitter.com/BWhiteSwan/status/1524148006622306304
Dead Russian soldiers abandoned by their Russian comrades in Kharkiv, possibly to hide their casualties, thus the need for new recruits (@BWhiteSwan/Twitter)

Even if they were successful in recruiting more conscripts to send to Ukraine, it would be counter-productive for them to do so. SOFREP has followed the war closely, and many would agree with us that one of the reasons the Russians have been unsuccessful, apart from lack of planning, is the fact that Russian conscripts had little to no useful combat training when they got sent to Ukraine with the expected results, this led their generals to go to the front to try and get things organized, with many of them paying with their lives.

100 Days in the Meat Grinder: A Look at Ukrainian and Russian Casualties So Far

Read Next: 100 Days in the Meat Grinder: A Look at Ukrainian and Russian Casualties So Far

Essentially, they sent untrained conscripts to fight a war as if it was on-the-job training. Well, we don’t know what they expected with that, but it sure is not going well for them. Russia is a real testament to the old saying that sometimes, it is really not about the numbers.

If they can’t recruit, why not coerce? SOFREP also reported previously that many Russian contract soldiers were being threatened with criminal charges if they decided to terminate their contract. Members of the FSB would show up at their camps and intimidate them with prison time if they decided to leave and go home. A firsthand account of this situation was narrated by Svetlana, the mother of Russian contract soldiers Ivan and Alexey, who tried to earn money for their family by signing up as contract soldiers but were lied to and forced to fight in Ukraine.

If that wasn’t enough, Russia is also suffering from internal sabotage. Credible reports of Russian men actively destroying Russian military recruitment offices with Molotov cocktails have been widespread in Moscow. It is unknown whether these were acts of protests or Russian men simply not wanting to be conscripted, but it does reveal that a number of Russians do not support the war and are willing to bomb their own for them not to be recruited into their army. Talk about low morale inside and outside Ukraine.

Will they be successful in recruiting new soldiers for their war in Ukraine? Only time will tell, but evidence suggests that they won’t. At this point, they are scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of their troops. They have lost so much that they need foreigners and individuals over 40 to fight for their country.

One has to ask why Russia even needs to recruit for this war in Ukraine and why the patriotic fervor of the Russian population doesn’t result in volunteers lining up outside recruiting offices for the chance to serve.  Three months into this war and Russia is beginning to look like Nazi Germany in 1943, recruiting foreigners into its front line units and drawing on older men to file its ranks.