Tuesday, December 12, 2023

As Ukraine War Grinds On, Ever More Russian Soldiers are Deserting

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Dec. 7 – As the Ukrainian war grinds on, soldiers in the Russian military are deserting ever more frequently, with some 4121 of them now having had criminal charges brought against them. Since June 2023, the number of new cases has been averaging more than 100 a week.

            According to the Media Zone portal, the largest number of desertions are occurring in the largest Russian cities rather than in non-Russian republics where anti-war sentiment has been most clearly expressed. The likely reason is that Russians from the cities feel they can hide more effectively than those from smaller urban centers (zona.media/news/2023/11/24/4k).

            Such a pattern helps to explain why the Kremlin has chosen to draft more heavily from outside urban centers, a pattern usually explained as the result of a calculation that drafting too many Muscovites or Petersburgers could spark mass protests. But the fact that so many deserters are from those and other large cities is likely to become an increasing problem in and of itself.

            Few deserters are interested in talking to the media, but one who has, a former soldier from Bashkortostan, details the reasons he chose to flee the military even though it could land him in prison or the camps. His interview with the IdelReal portal can be found at idelreal.org/a/32717071.html.

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