Russia Turns to Recruiting Trucks and Big Salaries to Attract Volunteer Soldiers

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The Russian military, seeking contract soldiers for its “special military operation” in Ukraine, is using mobile recruitment trucks to attract volunteers, offering almost $3,000 a month as an incentive.

A special unit parked one of these trucks in a central park in the southern Russian city of Rostov and removed the sides to reveal a mobile office.

Soldiers, dressed in camouflage and wearing black masks, displayed their weapons to interested passers-by and handed out color pamphlets entitled “Contract Military Service: A Real Man’s Choice.”

Neither Russia nor Ukraine reveal their military losses, which Western intelligence agencies estimate to be in the tens of thousands on both sides.

Moscow has not updated the official death toll since March 25, when it said 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed and 3,825 wounded. The Kremlin maintained last week that there was no talk of a nationwide mobilization to bolster its forces.

However, the recruitment drive shows that Moscow needs more men. The officer in charge of the Rostov truck said Russians and foreigners between the ages of 18 and 60 with at least a secondary education would be eligible.

“Citizens with a patriotic mentality choose to sign contracts of three or six months to participate in the special military operation,” said Major Sergei Ardashev, who promised training for all. The minimum monthly salary on offer is 160,000 rubles ($2,700), nearly three times the national average.

One of the potential recruits was musician Viktor Yakunin, who said he had always been drawn to the idea of ​​military service and was now gathering the necessary documents.

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“I would love to serve,” he said. “My parents raised me from a young age to love my homeland, to protect the Russian world. I think the power is with us.”

Inside the truck, Yakunin sat down with Ardashev, who told him that the next step would be a mental exam. If he passed it, there would be a physical test of speed, strength, and endurance.

If all went well, Yakunin would “arrive at a military affiliate, enroll in a specific division, (and) from that point on start military service.”

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