Moscow scrambling to fill ranks of its forces in Syria and elsewhere

Putin helping Assad in Syria political cartoon

 

2016/12/16 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, Russia

Russia’s indefensible actions against the civilian population of Aleppo, actions that rise to the level of crimes against humanity, are attracting so much attention that many have ignored another development that may ultimately have an even greater impact on Vladimir Putin’s behavior.

And that is this: The Kremlin is having trouble filling the ranks of its forces on the ground in Syria and has been forced to take a number of steps that both reflect its desperation and may lay the groundwork for future aggression if they are successful or make it far more difficult if they are not.

For a country with a military as large and powerful as Putin routinely assures his own people and the world, the dispatch of a few thousand ground troops to another country whose government welcomes them should not be problem. But three new developments show that it has become one.

First, there have been reports about Moscow sending 500 Chechen soldiers from units controlled up to now by Ramzan Kadyrov personally to Syria to help the Assad dictatorship, reports that have attracted particular attention because at least 12 of their number have refused to go.

Few Russian senior officers trust the Chechens; and consequently, it is almost certain that they had these people imposed on them by the Kremlin both because of a desire of the central political leadership to ensure that any deaths on the ground could be more easily hidden and because there was no one else readily available.

That some of the Chechen soldiers are resisting, of course, will only reinforce the attitudes of the Russian office corps and of many Russians more generally about the reliability of the Chechens and mean that officers are likely to dig in in opposition to the use of the Chechens and to get support from Russians for doing so.

Second, there are reports about “secret Russian mercenaries” hired by the Russian Ministry of Defense under commanders who earlier fought in Ukraine, a group that may be prepared to do the kind of things Putin and Assad prefer but that do nothing to promote unit cohesion in the military or boost its standing with the Russian population.

And third, today, the Russian State Duma passed a measure that will allow the Russian military to hire people for short-term contracts to fight abroad. In the past, such people had to serve two or more years; now, they will only have to commit to six to 12 months.

The military is likely to seek to employ former soldiers who have recent training of the kind needed, something that could save Moscow money and also allow for a rapid build up or alternatively drawn down in forces but again something that reflects not only budgetary stringencies but also broader personnel ones as well.

These three developments come on top of a longstanding trend: the number of 18-year-olds in the Russian Federation, the prime draft age, is declining and the share of ethnic Russians within them is declining as well. That makes it hard to fill all the slots in the Russian army with the people commanders would most like to have.

And that difficulty is compounded by the need the Russian economy has in at least some sectors for additional workers and by the still negative attitudes many Russians have to military service because of widespread reports of dedovshchina and other harsh aspects in the life of uniformed personnel.


Related:

 

Edited by: A. N.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

  • Mykola Banderachuk

    good news

  • zorbatheturk

    Death to Putin and all Putins! Murdering RuSSian scum.

  • Randolph Carter

    The dedovshchina will always be there in one form or another, just like hazing in college; the officers will just look the other way. Also, the ones doing the dedovshchina will just get more creative.

    If the Duma changed Russian policy in hiring mercenaries, the mercenaries would probably get sick of saving Russian soldiers who don’t want to fight because they’ve been conscripted. When they returned to Moscow and asked to be paid, they’d be told there is no money. They’ll decline another term and tell their fellow mercenaries. You can only screw so many people, and karma’s a b*tch.

    One thing Putin could do is withdraw troops from another country (I forget – it’s a country that starts with ‘U’) and use them. Problem is, Putin would lose some of his reputation as a tough guy by doing it – he’d have to admit that invading Ukraine and backing Assad at the same time was a bad idea.

    When Putin attacked Syria, my first thought was ‘two-front war’. Hitler learned that the hard way by trying to fight the Allies and Stalin at the same time. The dwarf’s between a rock and a hard place now, and it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a Russian insurrection, especially since some soldiers are refusing deployment. I wonder how much of the Russian army will go AWOL.

    • Dagwood Bumstead

      Faced with a choice Pedo Putolini will sooner give up Syria than withdraw his Kolorads from the Donbas. Forcing Kyiv to do Moscow’s bidding is an obsession for him. In his warped view controlling Kyiv is vital, perhaps even to Dwarfstan’s survival- Syria isn’t.

  • Dagwood Bumstead

    Kadyrov’s Praetorian Guard i.e. his thugs also won’t be encouraged by the reports, official or otherwise, of Dwarfstanians returning home from Syria as Gruz 200 or 300. It’s one thing to terrorise unarmed Chechens with little chance of reprisal, quite another to face people who can and do shoot back. Furthermore, they can expect to be sent to the most dangerous spots, to minimise the casualties among ethnic Dwarfstanians. I wouldn’t be anxious to be used (or rather abused) as cannon fodder either.

  • freedom fighter

    euromaidan press………..ОЧЕНЬ ОЧЕВИДНО И УХМЫЛЯТЕЛЬНО)
    like i’ve said, ukraine should take some of the terrorists that the normal people consider
    real terrorists and basically provide everything for them poor folks…….let’s see how long
    that relationship lasts)))) майданушки блин)