The Russian army has sustained heavy losses during its ill-fated invasion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian army claims that some 49,000 Russian soldiers have died since the the beginning of the war on February 24. Pentagon officials say between 70,000 to 80,000 Russians have been killed or injured.
The Kremlin is scrambling to provide its army with more fresh blood to help cover the huge losses.
Volunteer battalions have been formed in Russia’s regions and prisons have been raided for recruits.
However, Putin has refrained from implementing a compulsory national draft, partly in fear that it could spark a serious social backlash.
Now Russian recruitment officials are targeting a new source of potential recruits – the country’s homeless.
SOTA, an independent Russian news agency, reported that officials from the Saint Petersburg’s Frunzensky War Commissariat came to a homeless shelter in the city’s Obukhovo district on August 17.
They asked the duty officer if they could distribute leaflets advertising service contracts in the Russian army.
The leaflets were titled: “Contracted Military Service – My Choice!”
They promised a one off payment of 300,000 (£4,324) rubles along with an average monthly salary of 200,000 (£2,882).
The average wage in Russia is around 62,457 rubles or £900, according to the website take-profit.org
In addition, authorities also promised unspecified further payments and concessions.
The duty officer refused the request and sent the officials packing, but they didn’t give up.
The recruitment officials attempted to contact people at the centre via email from their offices.
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The Fruzensky administration admitted it had attempted to distribute the leaflets, when contacted by journalists.
A spokesperson said their goal was to convey information about contract service to everyone possible.
SOTA also claimed that attempts to recruit people into the Saint Petersburg volunteer battalion were going much more slowly than planned.
They wrote: “To all appearances, the recruitment into the “registered” St. Petersburg battalions is proceeding more slowly than planned.
“Neither high salaries, nor benefits, nor one-time 300,000 from the city budget motivate citizens from Saint Petersburg to die for Lysychansk.”
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Lysychansk is a reference to the city in Luhansk province in the Donbas region of Ukraine that was captured by the Russians towards the end of July.
It comes amid reports that the Russian private militia Wagner continues its attempts to recruit prisoners.
The alleged head of the group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is said to have visited the IC-15 penal colony in the Rostov region.
He told inmates that he was looking for robbers and murderers, according to one of the prisoners.
The businessman, nicknamed Putin’s chef, promised amnesty in six months but also warned prisoners that if they took drugs, tried to escape or surrendered during combat, then they would face the death penalty.