The Russian military is on a recruitment blitz at a moment the advance of its ground forces in Ukraine is mostly stalled - though at least 80% of the strategic city of Bakhmut is now said to be in Russian hands. If completely captured, it's expected to mark a major turning-point in the war.
President Putin has yet to order anymore military mobilization or drafts since last September's 'partial mobilization' - which saw as many as 300,000 reservists called up, and which proved to be deeply unpopular given the many thousands of young men that fled the country. But now the Kremlin is looking for more professional soldiers to fight in Ukraine on a voluntary basis, and toward that end has launched a new recruitment initiative based on a video ad campaign which is gaining widespread attention.
The video campaign challenges Russian males on whether they are "a real man" and presents the dichotomy of mundane normal life in society vs. the "excitement" of the battlefield.
Reuters describes that "The ad, set to stirring music, follows a report from British military intelligence and Russian media reports that suggest Moscow is seeking to recruit up to 400,000 professional soldiers - on a volunteer basis - to bolster its forces in Ukraine."
Major Russian social networking sites and state media sources have featured the ad this week.
According to estimates which are about a month old featured in a leaked US Defense Intelligence Agency document (part of the recent trove of documents part of the "Discord leaks"), Russia has lost up to 43,000 troops in the Ukraine conflict.
Watch the new recruitment ad calling for 'real men' below:
sick ad i aint gonna lie 🤷♂️ pic.twitter.com/tP9TWWr1x0— War Monitor (@WarMonitors) April 20, 2023
According to a further description in Reuters, the defense ministry is hoping to lure high quality warfighters with solid pay and benefits:
The ad, which invites men to sign a contract with the Russian defense ministry for a salary starting at 204,000 rubles ($2,495) a month, shows a man in supermarket dressed in military uniform holding a heavy machine gun. He is then shown in the uniform of a security guard with the question: "Is this the kind of defender you dreamt of becoming?"
Next in the video, a man is walking through the fog with other soldiers on what looks like a battlefield. He is then shown as a gym instructor helping a client lift weights.
"Is this really where your strength lies?" the video asks, before cutting to a taxi driver taking a client’s fare who then transforms into a soldier on the battlefield.
“You’re a real man. Be one,” says the ad.
Military recruitment booths seen in places like Moscow and other major cities are now featuring themes premised on the video campaign.
The initiative suggests that Putin is unlikely to roll out with either a new general mobilization or draft in the near-future, unless things take a drastically negative turn on the battlefield, or perhaps unless NATO increases direct involvement in backing Ukrainian forces.