Murphy's Law: Russia Lowers Recruiting Standards

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October 5, 2023: Russia is running out of men suitable for military service due mostly to opposition to conscription and voluntary enlistment. This has led to lowering of standards of those mobilized into the military. The standards can only be lowered so far before the number of “partially fit” men now subject to conscription or mobilization into the military reaches the point where the unfit outnumber the fit and the medical expenses for the partially fit men becomes more than Russia can afford. Normally, men with HIV, Covid19, poor vision, diabetes, cancer and susceptibility to strokes were not taken into the military. Now they are and that means more medical expenses for the military and problems finding useful work for the partially fit in the armed forces.

Many healthy Russian military age men have found ways to avoid military service, including obtaining false documents about their medical condition, bribes to conscription or mobilization authorities or simply illegally leaving the country. With partially fit men now eligible the bribes and illegal migration will continue as will popular opposition by families of men being taken into the military. This widespread opposition is something the government cannot ignore indefinitely.

The government insists that there is no war for these men to be sent into and that excuse has lost its credibility as the number of Russians killed in Ukraine approaches 300,000. Taking partially fit men is not only more expensive in terms of medical costs, but it means more families of partially fit men will openly oppose these changes. Even if most of the partially fit men are not sent into combat, non-combat military jobs can be strenuous and many partially fit recruits will not be able to handle it. The government has a hard time justifying this and, as more of the partially fit escalate to totally unfit while in the military, their families will grow more angry at the government. This cannot be ignored because Russia ceased being a dictatorship in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. The new, somewhat democratic, Russian government learned to pay more attention to public opinion. This resulted in long demanded changes to conscription and the conditions of military service. Conscripts now serve only one year and the new laws prohibit them from being sent to fight in a foreign war.

Russia then proclaimed that Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine were not involved in a war but a necessary effort to fight NATO aggression. This explanation was not popular but tolerated. That has changed as more Russian soldiers die in Ukraine, a country Russia invaded while insisting it was actually a domestic conflict because Russia did not recognize Ukraine as an independent country. The invasion failed, the Russian losses in weapons and manpower were larger than expected and continue to get worse. Dealing with that problem by taking “partially fit” men into the military is seen as a desperate measure that will only increase Russian losses in personnel and money spent on death benefits for the families of soldiers allegedly killed as well as a growing increase in medical costs for wounded or disabled soldiers. Taking the partially fit make it worse. Russian popular opposition to the war and the government are also increasing, something that Russian politicians are forced to deal with and are having a difficult time handling.

 

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