Vladimir Putin is targeting rural areas of Russia for conscription to avoid extensive questions about casualties, it has been claimed. Accredited Russian journalist Andrei Soldatov suggested President Puti “understand something about the war in Chechnya” and adapt his strategy for Ukraine on lessons learned from the past. The Chechen War refers to two separate rebellions by the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria against Russian rule.
The first war lasted from 1994-1996, with the second conflict lasting just under a year between 1999 and 2000
Soldatov suggested Putin’s new conscription approach focusing on rural conscription had emerged from his knowledge of the Chechen conflict.
Enthusiasm and support for conflict often declines as the scale of human harm is revealed.
DW’s Conflict Zone host, Tim Sebastian, suggested that soldiers’ relatives were often the primary source of information in reporting war casualties.
Mr Sebastian said: “Mother soldiers have shown themselves, in the past, to be quite a formidable voice in Russian society.”
Soldatov agrees and argues that is the reason why Putin knows “it is better not to have soldiers recruited in big cities and sent to war”.
He added: “That’s why you see all the people now taking prisoners in Ukraine mostly from Siberia [and] from areas as far away in Central Russia as Moldova.”
Mr Sebastian asked, referring to possible conscript deaths in the invasion of Ukraine: “Are you saying people wouldn’t care about them?”
Mr Soldatov said: “Well, if you had some people killed and their relatives were in a small town in Moldova, it would be a problem only for their small community, not for cities like Moscow.”
He also explained that Putin intends to minimize Russian citizens’ knowledge of conflict-related deaths by conscription in isolated rural areas.
Investigative journalists suggested the obituary would reach and affect a much smaller population than the loss in a larger, densely populated, well-connected city.
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Current figures around Ukrainian casualties are more readily available and updated.
The latest statistics from Ukraine have reported an estimated 2,685 civilian casualties with 1,035 killed and 1,650 injured.
The war-related casualty record is ongoing and the realistic Ukrainian casualty toll is expected to increase significantly as the report updates.
A statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights explained “because receipt of information from some locations where intense hostilities have occurred has been delayed and many reports are still awaiting confirmation”.