Staunton, Aug. 24 – Despite media hype and massive subsidies to those who join up, few of the 40 regions and republics that promised to create volunteer battalions to fight in Ukraine have done so; and those few have succeeded only by promising enormous sums, often never paid, and then attracted few if any volunteers.
As a result, observers surveyed by Kazan’s Business-Gazeta say, few of these units have made a significant contribution. There are only two exceptions to this failure, they continue. On the one hand, these units, whose men are selected by their commanders, display far more unit cohesion than does the regular army (business-gazeta.ru/article/561117).
And on the other and perhaps more important, those units formed by non-Russian republics often use their own languages which these Russian observers say, Ukrainians can’t understand, much like the Soviets used Tatars and other non-Russians during World War II to confuse the Germans. But even these positive contributions have not convinced the General Staff of the utility of such forces.
Consequently, writing now in the wake of Putin’s decision to declare a partial mobilization, it is clear that these units from Moscow’s perspective may have been useful as propaganda tools but have never played the role that the Kremlin and the defense ministry hopes for and likely will be phased out, the Tatarstan news outlet suggests.
The Business-Gazeta report provides one of the fullest accounts of what is known about which federal subjects actually formed such units as compared to the larger number who promised to do so, how much they had to pay or otherwise promise to attract volunteers, and why more senior commanders viewed these units, often understrength and with little training, with disdain.