Russian advertisement for contract military service.
“The general atmosphere in the Center is strikingly different from the environment of the draft board familiar to every male Russian.”
Over the past 15 months, polls in Russia have indicated significant public support (ranging from around 70 to 80 percent) for its invasion of Ukraine. Given the government’s control over the media (and most polling agencies), the genuine level of support could be considerably lower. The Kremlin’s ongoing challenge in attracting sufficient contract-military manpower may better reflect the actual public mood regarding this conflict. Few young Russian men appear willing to enlist as contract soldiers. As the accompanying excerpt from the popular Russian site Moskovskiy Komsomolets points out, Russian officials in Moscow are now pulling out all stops to attract sufficient contract military personnel for the so-called “special military operation” (SMO) in Ukraine.
Until recently, processing centers for Russian contract soldiers were bureaucratic, bare-boned operations with minimal staffing and infrastructure. As the article describes, this has all changed (at least in Moscow) with the recent inauguration of the new “five-story Unified Selection Point for military service under contract.” Instead of long lines amid grim surroundings, this new induction center boasts of “electronic queues, comfortable waiting rooms, with trained and competent specialists.” All the administrative and medical facilities are co-located, allowing potential contract soldiers to “comfortably and quickly go through a full cycle of events related to admission to the army.” The center is open all week and has the capacity to process 300 new contract soldiers daily. The article also describes some of the terms and benefits of becoming a contract soldier. Quoting a Moscow military commissar, “each candidate has the right to choose his specialty,” and the ages of admission for contractors is between 18 and 60. Candidates can come from anywhere in Russia, as well as from any other neighboring country. According to the article, the pay and benefits package for new contract soldiers is quite impressive. Besides their regular contract pay, soldiers from Moscow will receive a one-time payment of 195,000 rubles ($2,500) as well as similar monthly payments while participating in the SMO. There are also schooling benefits for eligible children and retired parents of contract soldiers. As the Kremlin continues to wrestle with manpower challenges, contract military service may become a more attractive option for Russians living in Moscow.[i]
Yury Sukhanov, “В столице открылся сверхсовременный Единый пункт отбора на контрактную службу (An ultra-modern unified selection point for contract service was opened in the capital),” Moskovskiy Komsomolets (popular Russian site), 3 April 2023. https://www.mk.ru/moscow/2023/04/03/v-stolice-otkrylsya-sverkhsovremennyy-edinyy-punkt-otbora-na-kontraktnuyu-sluzhbu.html
In Moscow, the modernization of all contours of the urban environment and public services continues. Following health care, education, housing and communal services, transport, the sphere of manning the Armed Forces, which is vital for the country, is brought to the standards of the 21st century. Within the framework of this program, a five-story Unified Selection Point for military service under a contract was opened …where volunteers can comfortably and quickly go through a full cycle of events related to admission to the army….
“What I would like to note: with all candidates, events will be held for selection for a contract on the principle of one window, without leaving the territory of this building, – says the military commissar of the city of Moscow Maxim Loktev. – All logistics are thought out taking into account the wishes of those who have already been on the contract. All the services participating in the selection procedure are located in one building, and all the logistics of those wishing to enter the contract are organized along the lines of multifunctional centers that are well known to Muscovites. Electronic queues, comfortable waiting rooms, trained and competent specialists are just the tip of the iceberg: the basis is a competent division of the functionality of employees, verified routes and procedures….
… “Each candidate has the right to choose his specialty,” Loktev added. According to him, people from 18 to 60 years old can become contractors… After the interview and clarification of the capabilities and intentions of the applicant entering the Armed Forces, it is the turn of doctors…
…according to the military commissar of Moscow, candidates from all regions of the country are accepted. “We are faced with the fact that guys who want to serve under a contract work in Moscow and often represent different regions…. This option is also provided for those who are not citizens of the Russian Federation, from neighboring countries, we will also consider these candidates and offer them military service under the contract,” said Maxim Loktev.
…The center in its current configuration with specialists is designed to receive a hundred people per day, but it is possible to expand its capacity to 300 people daily…. The general atmosphere in the Center is strikingly different from the environment of the draft board familiar to every male Russian.
…Before leaving for the special operation zone, all contract soldiers… will undergo special professional training at the best training grounds in the Moscow region.
As for material support for military personnel and their families, in Moscow it includes regular monthly payments, as well as lump sum payments upon signing a contract and sending them to the SMO zone. When signing a contract for a year or more, a person entering the Armed Forces will receive a lump sum of 195,000 rubles from the city. Further, the system guarantees regular additional payments depending on rank and military position.Moscow currently has one of the most extensive packages of social support and benefits for military personnel, primarily for participants in the special operation. These benefits apply not only to the soldiers themselves, but also to their families. Thus, the children of combatants have the right to extraordinary admission to the kindergarten closest to their home, the school of their choice (regardless of the place of permanent registration). And social workers will help elderly relatives of Muscovite soldiers in everyday life.
[i] For additional background on recent incentives to attract new soldiers, see: Ray Finch, “Added Incentives for Those who Fight in Ukraine,” OE Watch, 3-2023.
Image: Russian advertisement for contract military service.
Attribution: CCA-SA 3.0 Public Domain