I discussed on previous occasions the reasons why Russia doesn’t want to act on official mobilization, relying instead on “volunteers”, private military contractors (i.e. Wagner Group), Russian Guard. I put the volunteers part in quotation marks not to belittle their motivation — I can’t speak on this matter, and I assume many are genuinely believe in the cause, and not only to make some money.
There are news articles appearing (for example here), that display the published advertising for the reservists, who are willing to sign a contract with the Russian Army to take part in the “Special Military Operation” (SMO). The terms are such:
- wage starting from 300,000 rubles per month;
- state takes care of: insurance, medical services, food, clothes and equipment;
- state supplies the housing, pays the apartment rent or finances the purchase of private apartment/house (where applicable);
- free of charge transportation to the place of vacation +1;
- benefits for children;
- state sponsored higher education for the children.
The payment itself, about $5,000 per month, may seem like not much for Westerners, but its quite high for Russia. For example, starting wages for IT specialists in Moscow can be around 100,000 rubles or less. And I believe minimal state provided pension is about 20,000 rubles. Assuming the volunteer has some military profession, or has a rank of sergeant, NCO or officer, his wage can be much higher. President Putin has ordered for insurance payment of 3,000,000 (or was it 2,000,000) rubles for injury, and 5,000,000 for death. So, assuming you have nothing better to do, you could provide your family. Of course, professional military service has its own pension and retirement benefits, regardless of the SMO, and combat service even more.
So in fact, we are talking about voluntary mobilization of reserves. Without declaration of war, of general mobilization, or even using conscripts. This is a best scenario for Russia, in the event its active professional soldiers, internal troops and mercenaries, and of course the allied militias of Donbass, are not quite enough to take on Ukraine by themselves.
Upper age limit for contract military service removed
Other interesting news, which may be related, is the new Russian legislation, which is removing the upper age cap for contract military service. Russian citizens who are older than 40 years, can now sign contract with the Russian Army. And, maybe more interestingly, foreign citizens of ages above 30 years old can now do the same.
The news article makes a note, that this legislation is mainly intended for non-combat profession, like medics, communications and engineers. But I’m more interested in the implications of the non-citizens part. For example, the pro-Russian population of the liberated/occupied territories of Ukraine, can now apply for contract service with Russian Armed Forces. Assuming many would have difficulties with their regular jobs given this war, it may provide employment for a large number of those people. Since all of the able and available male population of Donbass has been mobilized (as far as I’m aware), it only leaves the Kherson, Zaporozh’e and Kharkov regions (for now).
Theoretically, it also enables some of the Ukrainian POW’s who surrendered without a fight, to be contracted by the Russian Army. I heard of some POW’s switching sides and serving in the militias. Assuming it is Russians who almost certainly pay all the Donbass bills for now, they as well may take those men into Russian military and under direct Russian command. Of course, assuming their family members are now live in Russian or Donbass controlled territories.