Friday, September 9, 2016

Russian Curators Treat Local Recruits in Donbass as ‘Cannon Fodder,’ Tymchuk Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 9 – Russia’s military advisors to the LNR and DNR regimes are increasingly concerned about the inability of the two to recruit reliable people from the local population, but the view of these officials that local people are little more than “cannot fodder” is a major reason why the Russians now face difficulties in recruitment, Dmitry Tymchuk says.

            The coordinator of the Information Resistance group says Russian curators are worried not only about recruiting more people but also about the low quality and penchant for alcoholism, drug abuse and desertion among those already serving in pro-Moscow militias (

            Efforts by the LNR and DNR to institute a draft have failed Tymchuk says.  And as a result, “the Russian curators of the illegal ‘republics’ have organized so-called contract service,” a euphemism for those who will agree to fight for the military units of these two “republics” for money.

            But that program too has suffered from “big problems,” given that forming militia bands is one thing while forming a real military force is something else and that the kind of skills needed for many types of military units are far beyond the capacity of those who are recruited in this way.

            The most reliable source for new militant forces, Tymchuk continues, consists of “military personnel of the regular armed forces of the Russian Federation. But here too there are problems. Many have finished their contracts” there and have little or no interest in signing up for dangerous service.

            The second most reliable source consists of Russian mercenaries. But this source is increasingly problematic as well. In 2014, most of these people had had spetsnaz experience, but now the military commanders in the LNR and DNR often have to take Russians with no military experience whatsoever, thus limiting the utility of units in which they are included.

            Such mercenaries are becoming ever harder to find as well because those who came earlier are known to have faced problems returning to Russia or on their return to Russia. As a result, if the two “republics” are to fill their units, they have to rely on local people even if those people are untrained or otherwise limited.

            There are two other compelling reasons for this choice. On the one hand, the Russian curators don’t want Russian regular military personnel to be taken prisoner; and on the other, they want to use high percentages of local people in at least some units to advance the claim that the LNR and DNR have popular support.

            The curators have no choice but to use Russian military personnel in high tech units like communications, but they are quite ready to use local people from the Donbass as “cannon fodder,” useful for propaganda and to take losses but good for little else.  Because local people are coming to recognize this, ever fewer of them are ready to join up.

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