“…the official representative of the RF Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, admitted that conscripts participated in the special operation….”
Alongside Russia’s improvement in combat readiness over the past decade, we have seen a significant improvement in Russian public attitudes toward the military. As reported earlier, (see: “Russian Patriotism and Values,” OE Watch, August 2020) polls suggest that Russians regard their military as one of the most trusted institutions, with the majority claiming that some form of military service should be mandatory for young Russian men. However, as the accompanying excerpt from the moderate source Nezavisimaya Gazeta suggests, the ongoing conflict with Ukraine may change public attitudes toward the military.
The article reports that the official representative of Russia’s Ministry of Defense (MoD), Igor Konashenkov, admitted on 9 March that conscripts participated in the “special operation” in Ukraine. As the article points out, this admission took on added poignancy since the day prior, President Putin had congratulated women on International Women’s Day and asserted that only contract soldiers were participating in the operation. As the article suggests, the Russian MoD only revealed this information after “the Ukrainian media distributed several videos showing young people who said they were captured Russian servicemen and not contract soldiers.” The article stresses that Putin had earlier instructed the MoD “to categorically exclude the involvement of conscripts for any tasks on the territory of Ukraine.” The article asserts that “the perpetrators of misinforming the president are planned to be identified and punished.” If such deception continues, public attitudes toward the military will likely decline.
Vladimir Mukhin, “Минобороны России признало участие срочников в спецоперации (The Russian Defense Ministry acknowledged the participation of conscripts in the special operation),” Nezavisimaya Gazeta (moderate source), 9 March 2022. https://www.ng.ru/armies/2022-03-09/2_8386_president.html
…Meanwhile, the official representative of the RF Ministry of Defense, Igor Konashenkov, admitted that conscripts participated in the special operation. Earlier, the Ukrainian media distributed several videos showing young people who say they are captured Russian servicemen and not contract soldiers. Russian officials denied this information until March 9, and President Vladimir Putin, congratulating women on International Women’s Day [8 March], confidently said that only contract soldiers were participating in the operation. “I would like to emphasize that soldiers who are serving in military service do not and will not participate in hostilities. There will be no additional call-up of reservists from the reserve,” the head of the Russian Federation said.
The position has now been corrected. “Unfortunately, several facts of the presence of conscripts in parts of the Russian armed forces involved in a special military operation on the territory of Ukraine were discovered,” Konashenkov said. – Almost all such servicemen have already been withdrawn to the territory of Russia. At the same time, a sabotage group of the national battalion attacked one of the units performing the tasks of logistical support. A number of servicemen, including conscripts, were captured.” According to Konashenkov, measures are now being taken to prevent conscripts from being sent to combat areas and to release captured soldiers.Press Secretary of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Peskov said that Putin was informed that his instruction “to categorically exclude the involvement of conscripts for any tasks on the territory of Ukraine” was carried out. Now the perpetrators of misinforming the president are planned to be identified and punished….