This situation is a remarkable turnabout from a decade ago when Chechens didn’t want to serve and Russian officers didn’t want to have them in the ranks. It reflects the appearance of a new generation that didn’t live through the war, the desire for good pay and a military ticket to get police jobs at home, and the status Chechen veterans of fighting in Ukraine and Syria have.
For the first 22 years after the end of the USSR, Moscow didn’t draft anyone from Chechnya. Now, the huge size of the draft pool there – there are more than 80,000 Chechen men between the ages of 18 and 27 – gives Moscow little choice but to take some, something it has done since 2014.
But the number Moscow is prepared to draft remains relatively small compared to that draft cohort and to the demand to serve because while younger Chechens may have no memory of the two post-Soviet Chechen wars, senior officers now often began their careers in those conflicts and don’t want Chechens in the ranks.
Most Chechen draftees will serve in their own republic or no further away than elsewhere in the North Caucasus. But approximately 100 of the 500 drafted this cycle will serve in the Russian Guard, Putin’s Praetorians whom the Kremlin may use to suppress protests and demonstrations.
Meanwhile, according to a report in Censoru.net, the occupation authorities in Crimea are having some difficulty filling the 2800 draft slots they have been allotted. Not only does Kyiv oppose their service in the Russian army, but most of those will be sent far from home, including to the Far North.
Not surprisingly, given resistance, Russian officials are now taking measures to try to ensure that all those drafted do serve and that those who avoid service are brought to justice and punished ().
What is striking here is not only the difference in attitude toward service but the size of the draft quotas: Moscow is seeking nearly six times as many draftees in Crimea as it is in Chechnya even though the population of the former is only about 50 percent larger, an indication of what Russian officers and Moscow would like and how they evaluate the value of the two.