Russia is trying to recruit Central Asian migrants for the Ukrainian conflict, luring them with attractive salaries and expedited citizenship, says the intelligence service of the British Ministry of Defence (MOD).
The recruiters, some of whom speak Tajik and Uzbek, are said to regularly visit mosques and immigration offices to find volunteers. The migrants are promised high salaries and fast-tracked Russian citizenship, which usually takes five years, but can be obtained in six months to a year under these circumstances.
According to Radio Free Europe, sign-up bonuses of up to $2,390 and monthly salaries of up to $4,160 are offered. Recruits are likely to be sent to the Ukrainian front lines, where “casualty rates are exceptionally high,” reports MOD.
The recruitment of migrants is part of the Russian effort to achieve its goal of recruiting 400,000 volunteers to fight in Ukraine.
The ministry believes that the Russian authorities are trying to delay overt conscription as long as possible to avoid public dissatisfaction.
Yet, in September 2022, the Russian authorities made it possible for foreigners who signed up to serve in the Russian army to obtain citizenship on an accelerated basis. In December, reports emerged of announcements in Uzbek, Kyrgyz and Tajik languages being broadcast on the Moscow public transport system, calling for recruitment into the Russian armed forces in exchange for Russian citizenship, through a simplified procedure.
Russia already has a number of Chechens fighting in its ranks who were actively involved in taking the city of Mariupol. The Wagner mercenary group, led by Yevgeny Prigozhin, threatened to pull his troops out of Bakhmut if his soldiers did not receive ammunition and have his troops replaced by Chechen fighters. He has not followed through on the threat but continues to state he has not received the necessary supplies to take the city.