Russia Wants to Recruit 400,000 New Contract Soldiers: Report

  • Russia wants to recruit 400,000 new contract soldiers starting in April, per multiple local reports.
  • News of this recruitment drive comes amid the military’s push to increase its manpower by 50%.
  • Russian contract soldiers are typically volunteers who serve three-year paid stints in the army.

The Russian Ministry of Defence plans to recruit another 400,000 contract soldiers in 2023, according to multiple local media reports.

The recruitment drive is expected to launch on April 1, and regional governments have already been informed of the hiring quotas they need to fulfill, reported Radio Free Europe on Tuesday.

The Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk regions, for example, were each told to obtain 10,000 signatures by the end of 2023, according to Ura.Ru, a pro-Kremlin news outlet.

And in Voronezh, one of the Russian regions closest to the border with Ukraine, military officials were seen distributing subpoenas to residents, telling them to update their particulars with enlistment and military registration offices, per BBC Russia.

The authorities said the summons were issued just to collect information, and not to lay the groundwork for a second mobilization, BBC Russia reported. 

The Russian news outlet Layout reported that the Russian military is in particular looking for new recruits in specialized vocations, like artillery or armor operators.

The incoming batches of contract soldiers will be allowed to choose whether they will be deployed to Ukraine, Layout wrote, citing an anonymous source at a local authority in Voronezh.

Russia declared a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 reservists in September to replenish forces being depleted by its invasion of Ukraine.

Reports of draftees with little training and poor equipment dying en masse have prompted local fears of a second mobilization wave. However, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in February there are no plans for a second mobilization.

Shoigu also said in December that the defense ministry is seeking to bolster its military from 1 million personnel to 1.5 million. The augmented military is expected to field some 695,000 contract soldiers, with at least 521,000 in service by the end of 2023, Shoigu said.

Russian contract soldiers are typically volunteers who sign up for a three-year paid stint in the army, per the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank. They numbered around 400,000 before Moscow invaded Ukraine. Since the war began in February 2022, recruiters have been offering hefty bonuses and increased salaries to contract soldiers, while the Kremlin rushes to bolster resources for its hard-hit troops.

The Russian Ministry of Defense did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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