The Russian military is trying to recruit Asian migrants to serve in Ukraine as Vladimir Putin‘s troops continue to take a hit on the frontline. According to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), Russia is offering ludicrous salaries and promising fast-track citizenships to all those who agree to fight against Kyiv under Moscow’s flag.
In its latest update on the Ukrainian war, the MoD said: “Russian military recruiters have been targeting central Asian migrant workers in Russia to serve in Ukraine. Recruiters have visited mosques and immigration offices to recruit. At immigration offices, staff who speak Tajik and Uzbek routinely attempt to recruit migrants.
“Radio Free Europe reported recruiters offering sign-up bonuses of USD $2,390 (£1,889.25) and salaries of up to USD $4,160 (£3,288.40) a month. Migrants have also been offered a fast-track Russian citizenship path of six months to one year, instead of the usual five years.
“The high monthly salary and sign-up bonuses will entice some migrant workers to sign up. These recruits are likely sent to the Ukrainian frontlines where the casualty rate is extremely high.
“Recruiting migrants is part of the Russian Ministry of Defence’s attempts to fulfil its target of 400,000 volunteers to fight in Ukraine.
“The authorities are almost certainly seeking to delay any new overt mandatory mobilisation for as long as possible to minimise domestic dissent.”
It comes as Russian authorities were forced to cancel Victory Day celebrations because of concerns the events could be targets for Ukrainian attacks.
Moscow’s famed Red Square military parade will go ahead following Russia‘s claim of an attempted Ukrainian drone attack on the Kremlin, whose spires loom next to the parade venue.
After seizing sizable parts of the neighbouring country in the opening weeks of the invasion, the Russian campaign saw an abandoned attempt to enter Kyiv, retreats in northern and southern Ukraine, and an inability to take Bakhmut, a small city of questionable value, despite months of exceptionally gruesome fighting.
Putin, in his speech during the parade, is sure to praise the Red Army’s determination to wipe out Nazism and to repeat his assertion that Russia is taking the moral high ground by fighting an alleged Nazi regime in Ukraine, a country with a Jewish president.
But the missiles that rain down on Ukrainian civilian targets have drawn worldwide condemnation of Russia, while the Western countries that made common cause with Moscow to defeat Nazi Germany send billions of dollars worth of weapons to Ukraine.
Analysts are divided on whether the May 3 drone incident at the Kremlin was a genuine attack or a “false flag” concocted to justify increasing the ferocity of Russia‘s missile barrages in Ukraine. Either explanation risks undermining the sense of security among Russians already rattled by attacks, likely committed by Ukraine or by domestic opponents, that has risen sharply in recent weeks.
Two freight trains derailed this week in bomb explosions in the Bryansk region that borders Ukraine. Notably, the region’s authorities did not blame Ukraine, which could be an attempt to whitewash the Ukrainian capability to carry out sabotage.
But Bryansk authorities claimed in March that two people were shot and killed when alleged Ukrainian saboteurs penetrated the region. The region also has come under sporadic cross-border shelling, including last month, when four people were killed.
Amid the heightened security worries, authorities also cancelled one of Victory Day’s most notable observances, the “Immortal Regiment” processions in which throngs of citizens take to the streets holding portraits of relatives who died or served in World War II.
The processions carry an air of genuine emotion, in sharp contrast to the obedient stone-faced soldiers who march across Red Square during the tightly regimented military parades that change little from year to year.
Although the processions are moving and impressively large, authorities “thought that the risks were becoming prohibitive,” said Russian analyst Dmitry Oreshkin, now at the Free University in Riga, Latvia. “If some kind of drones fly there, penetrate through the impenetrable border … then why can’t they drop something on this column?”