Putin Has Just Announced A New Tactic To Recruit More Troops Without Conscription

It's not known how many troops Russia has lost in the war – but it's thought to be a lot.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has just signed a new decree to encourage foreign nationals to sign up to the war effort.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin has just signed a new decree to encourage foreign nationals to sign up to the war effort.

Vladimir Putin has just changed Russian law so foreign nationals who fight for Moscow can get access to citizenship.

The Russian president signed a decree on Thursday to make it easier for those who fight in the Ukraine war, and their families, to get Russian passports – as long as they sign up to serve for at least one year.

Reuters noted that anyone who signed contracts with regular armed forces or other “military formations” are also eligible, in an apparent bid to encourage foreigners with previous military experience to join Russia’s ranks.

Even if those new troops end up leaving the Russian services for “heath reasons, upon reaching the age limit or following the lifting of martial law”, they will still be able to get Russian citizenship, according to the Russian state media agency TASS.

Russia has not revealed how many foreign nationals already fight for on its behalf in the Ukraine war, but Reuters news agency claims Cubans previously secured bonuses more than 100 times than their average salary to fight for Moscow.

Russia has also refused to reveal how many casualties it has faced in the war.

However, according to the UK’s Ministry of Defence’s estimates from November, there have been approximately 302,000 Russian military personnel killed or wounded since the war began in February 2022.

The MoD also believes tens of thousands of soldiers have deserted.

A more recent, declassified US intelligence report believes 315,000 Russian troops are either dead or wounded – which equates to 90% of the personnel it had when the war began.

Despite these estimated losses, Putin has repeatedly side-stepped announcing mandatory conscription for the whole of Russia.

To do so would go against his attempts to downplay the impact the war will have on the Russian public – probably the same reason he refers to the Ukraine invasion primarily as the “special military operation”.

Keeping the public on side is particularly important to Putin this year, because of the presidential election in March.

The authoritarian leader is widely expected to win again – he has been in power almost consistently since 2000 – but he still needs to stay in the public’s good books.

Putin did call up an extra 300,000 reservists in a partial mobilisation back in September 2022.

But, as the first mobilisation in Russia since World War 2, it sparked an unusual wave of protests and attempts to flee.

Moscow has since claimed that no further mobilisation is needed, because a wave of men (486,000) voluntarily signed up last year.

Putin said in December: “Altogether there will be just under half a million men by the end of this year. Why do we need a mobilisation?”

However, Russia has shifted the goalposts recently – in July, it announced any young Russian man aged 18 to 30 would have to face a year of military services from 2024. Previously, this only applied to those aged between 18 and 27.

Like Russia, Ukraine has not revealed its casualties from the war, either.

But, Kyiv is set to review mobilising up to 500,000 extra troops to tighten and expand mobilisation.


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