Staunton, Dec. 6 – Hundreds of junior officers in the Russian military are seeking to leave service before their terms primarily because they are appalled by the treatment they have received and the attitudes of more senior commanders, according to one of their number (severreal.org/a/takih-kak-ya-sotni-pochemu-ofitsery-begut-iz-armii/31588889.html).
He says most of those wanting to leave joined up enthusiastically out of patriotism but rapidly discovered that the military is corrupt and brutal and their treatment by more senior officers is appalling. Most remain only because the consequences of leaving early are severe, with criminal punishments or demands that they pay back their training.
But many junior officers have come up with a stratagem designed to force their commanders to dismiss them without such negative results. These officers show up for work only once every ten days. The military continues to pay them but they do little work. After a time, many commanders decide they would be better off without them.
In that event, these junior officers can be separated from service without facing criminal charges or being forced to pay the government back for their training. But the fact that this phenomenon appears to be widespread suggests that it is having extremely negative consequences on morale and unit cohesion.
One detail the Radio Liberty report features may be especially important. It says that at least some of these officers were encouraged to think about resigning after viewing Aleksey Navalny’s film about corruption at the top of the Russian political pyramid. If that is true, it helps explain why Vladimir Putin’s regime has come down so hard on that opposition figure.