Monday, April 29, 2024

Poorer Federal Subjects Forced to Use Compulsion Not Cash to Meet Russian Military Quotas

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 25 –Moscow has been able to meet its goals to sign up men for military service by offering men enormous bonuses that will lift them and their families out of poverty. But because some federal subject governments lack the cash to fund such bonuses, they are falling back on compulsion.

            And in at least some cases, they appear to be using that compulsion to achieve other ends, including destroying smaller local minorities by sending their men to die in Ukraine or possibly by forcing members of those groups to reidentify as members of the dominant titular nationality to escape that fate.

            This behavior seldom attracts much attention not only because the numbers of people involved are likely small and so don’t attract the attention of the central media but also because the media outlets in these federal subjects are typically firmly under control of the governments there who have little interest in having such stories reported.

            That makes a story by Radio Svoboda journalist Fidel Agumava about what is happening to the Soyots in Buryatia especially important not only in and of itself but also because of the light it shines on what is likely far more widespread phenomenon (

            As she documents, Buryat officials working with the Russian military are using compulsion to meet Moscow’s recruitment goals because the republic does not have enough money to offer the kind of bonuses that other regions and republics either on their own or with special help from Moscow are able to do instead.

            And Agumava shows that this use of compulsion is selective in that it is directed more at the Soyots, a Buryat sub-ethnos, than at other Buryats, an apparent indication that Ulan-Ude may be taking advantage of the Kremlin’s mobilization program to engage in its own kind of ethnic engineering.

             This report at the very least should introduce a notion of caution that Moscow can buy its way out of its recruitment problems. Moreover, it also should lead to an examination of exactly what is happening in Russia’s poorest and often non-Russian republics, especially outside the North Caucasus where Moscow provides funds for such bonuses to keep things quiet.

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