Exposed: How Putin’s blood money oils the blades of Russia’s meat grinder in Ukraine

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun29,2024

Vladimir Putin is using huge financial incentives to persuade poor Russians to fight in Ukraine, offering them ten times their normal salary to take their chances in Russia‘s meat grinder.

The policy has allowed the Kremlin to avoid enforcing a nationwide mobilisation, a move that officials fear could spark serious civil unrest.

The Russian army has suffered catastrophic losses to it frontline troops since it invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

France’s government estimates that Russia has lost 500,000 soldiers, of which 150,000 have been killed.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence puts the figure of casualties at around 450,000, while an investigation carried out by the BBC and Mediazona identified 50,000 dead soldiers.

The figures are astonishing and unprecedented in Russia‘s recent history of military campaigns.

Throughout its ten year occupation of Afghanistan, the Soviet army lost a total 15,000 men, and 35,000 injured.

Despite the slaughter and inhuman treatment of its frontline troops, the Kremlin has managed to produce a steady stream of new recruits, without provoking a public backlash.

Ilya Ponomarev, a leading Russian opposition figure, told the Express that the army was overwhelmingly recruiting men from isolated and economically depressed regions to avoid stirring up public anger over the war and the huge casualties.

“If you look at the structure of where the dead soldiers originate from, you will see that more than 90 percent are from the very depressed remote regions,” he explained.

“And that’s a conscious policy of the Russian government. They recruit very poor people from large families, from remote villages, both Russian remote villages and the national republics.

“These people who are used to being very obedient to their superiors, which are under control of their local leaders, of their local clients.”

Average wages in these regions vary between US$200 (£158) and US$300 (£237), less than half the average monthly salary of US$1000 (£790).

The Kremlin is offering young men from these areas as much as US$2,000 (£1,581) a month if they agree to sign up.

In addition, if they are killed then their families stand to receive up to US$100,000 (£79,000) in compensation payments.

“And that’s the type of money that they never saw in their life,” Mr Ponomarev said.

“Their personal houses they live in, they usually cost US$10,000 (£7,900). For US$100,000, they can buy for their kids at least two good apartments in the city.

“And that’s a ticket for social lift, for a better life for their families.

“That’s why, obviously, it’s a tragedy when they are losing one of their husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, and whatever, but from another side, for them it’s a social lift.

“And Putin right now is literally buying the loyalty of the population with money.”

The Kremlin is mindful of the panic and anger a nation wide draft could spark after hundreds of thousands of young people fled the country in 2022.

In September 2022, Putin began a military mobilisation, that put many men at risk of being conscripted.

The announcement led to an exodus of men and their families from Russia, many heading to the neighbouring countries of Georgia and Kazakhstan.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence estimated 1.3 million people left Russia in 2022.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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