By Paul Goble
Reflecting Moscow’s search for more soldiers to fight in Ukraine, the Duma is being pressed to adopt a law that will allow younger people and those without prior military training to sign on as volunteers, an arrangement that if approved will almost certainly lead to more Russian combat losses as soldiers without training are sent into battle.
Sergey Krivenko, head of the Citizen.Army.Law NGO says that these changes will make the army “wildly unprofessional and in fact little more than cannon fodder.” What the government should be doing, he argues, is increase the amount of training anyone being sent into combat is required to have received (ehorussia.com/new/node/26205).
“A professional soldier must know more than just how to pull the trigger,” the activist says. “He must understand what military crimes are, why civilians must not be killed and know the basics of international humanitarian law. Otherwise, what will happen is what we have seen in Bucha.”
This new plan is thus almost certain to lead to disasters in a war that has been characterized by them, Krivenko says; but of course, “a real professional would not have begun this war” or fought it in the way that the Putin regime has. Now, in order to avoid angering the population by declaration mobilization, it is taking a step that will make things worse.
The Russian army will get more men in uniform, but it won’t have the kind of well-trained soldiers who know how to obey the laws of war. Indeed, there is already an indication of what that can lead to not only in places like Bucha but everywhere Ramzan Kadyrov’s irregulars have been sent to fight.
Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .