Amid reports of heavy losses and a lack of progress in Ukraine, the Russian government has launched a new military recruitment campaign. The campaign urges citizens to give up their civilian jobs and instead work as contract soldiers for the military, promising a monthly salary of at least 204,000 roubles, four times Russia's average.
The video advertisement features a supermarket guard, a fitness instructor, and a taxi driver, who all appear disillusioned with civilian life but find fulfillment in the army.
The recruitment drive is likely due to the Russian military's urgent need for new soldiers following more than a year of fighting in Ukraine. Leaked US documents estimate Russian losses at between 189,500 and 223,000 casualties, with 35,500-43,000 men killed in action.
Similar attempt made by Putin in Sept 2022
In September 2022, President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilization" to recruit new soldiers, regardless of whether they wanted to join the army, which led to a dip in his popularity.
Russian recruitment ads have become ubiquitous on state TV and social media platforms like VKontakte, with the number of army ads jumping sevenfold, according to research by independent website Novaya Gazeta. The campaign has also appeared in the press and on posters in Russian streets.
Criticism of Russian recruitment campaign
Ukrainian propagandists have subverted the ad campaign by producing an edited version with different wording. The characters in the video are now against killing children and beheadings and "don't want to be held responsible for President Vladimir Putin's war crimes." The Ukrainian video encourages people to "be a person" instead of "be a man," implying that joining the army requires committing atrocities.
It is worth noting that the Russian video does not mention the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, and the Kremlin has denied any new wave of mobilization, despite reports of students in the Russian capital receiving call-up papers. The Russian government has also made it easier to recruit new army members and much more difficult to avoid the draft by approving legislation to start serving call-up papers online.
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