Moscow has launched a new campaign to encourage Russians to join the armed forces and fight in Ukraine, though the Kremlin has denied it needs more recruits.
In an attempt to lure more volunteers to the front lines, Russian propaganda videos posted on social media in recent days attempt to appeal to Russian men through the narratives of patriotism, morality and upward social mobility.
One of the videos, released December 14, shows a young man choosing to fight instead of partying with his male friends, and then surprising everyone by handing over the money he got with a military contract deserves to buy a car.
In another video posted December 15, a soldier’s former girlfriend is once again impressed by his bravery and begs him to get back together with her. Another example shows a middle-aged man leaving the factory job that doesn’t pay him enough to sign a military contract and go to the front lines.
Another video shows a group of well-off Russian men in their 30s loading a car while older women ask them where they are going. One of the men replies, “To Georgia. Forever.” If a woman spills a bag of groceries, instead of helping, the men just get in the car and leave, while younger Russian men rush to collect the groceries. “The boys left, the men stayed.” , concludes one of the older women.
Many of the videos depict war as men’s escape from a grim daily reality of vodka drinking, poverty and helplessness. Meanwhile, reports and complaints about shortages of provisions and equipment in the Russian military continue to surface.
At a meeting with the mothers of those mobilized in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was better to be killed fighting for the Fatherland than to drink vodka to death.
In late September, Putin announced a “partial” military mobilization that saw more than 300,000 people mobilized across Russia as his war in Ukraine made no headway. The exact number of Russian soldiers killed and injured in Ukraine has not been made public.
Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid conscription, and fears of a second mobilization in the new year are growing.
Earlier this month, at a press conference following a summit of Eurasian countries in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Putin tried to reassure the public that there were no plans for additional mobilization.
Asked by a reporter what factors might require a new round of mobilization, Putin said: “There are no such factors today, we do not discuss them. I told you 300,000 were called up as part of the mobilization. Let me repeat again: 150,000 (who were deployed to Ukraine). Of these, just over half are in combat units.”
Asked about reports of ongoing shortages of military equipment at the front lines, Putin said he was working closely with Russia’s defense ministry and the issue was being resolved.