Dara Massicot Profile picture
Jun 29 15 tweets 3 min read
I continue to look for signs of long-term stability or problems in Russian military personnel recruitment and retention for 2023+ as a result of their war on Ukraine. Some preliminary thoughts from about the Russian spring draft. Conscript intake numbers are low so far (/1).
The 2022 spring draft runs from April – 15 July; roughly 85% of the time has elapsed as of today. In the 8 Russian regions I found information on conscription intake, most are at 30% or less of their conscript quota as of mid-June (/2)
8 oblasts is only 17% of total in Russia, but all 8 are coming up short as of June. These regions are geographically diverse and diverse in population density. This suggests an overall trend of sluggish conscript intake. (/3)
How low are the numbers I’ve found in 8 regions? The best I found was 35% intake with 66% of time elapsed. Most were between 18-30%. Some as low as single digit % of quota, with 66% of draft period time elapsed. (/4)
I attempted to compare these regions to previous draft cycles to see if this lag is typical. For example is there a big surge at the end of the cycle? And there sometimes is. Lots of holes in the information but, (/5)
For the few data points I found, the spring 2022 draft intake numbers are lower at this point than the same point in previous cycles, suggesting this spring is different. With only a few data points available, this view should be caveated significantly and revised as needed (/6)
Earlier, I noted that the casualty rates, stonewalling from the military about conditions, and pressures on conscripts, families in Russia might return to the old ways of hiding their sons or paying bribes to keep them away from the draft (/7) foreignaffairs.com/articles/russi…
..or potential draftees delay arriving at the commissariat for as long as possible. Already bribes are happening, apparently the going rate is 14,000 rubles in Siberia for a fake exemption (fines if caught are much higher) /8
In some regions, parents want assurances from commissariats that their sons won’t be sent to Ukraine. I noted before that when MOD leaders make statements that conscripts won’t be sent to the front line, it’s usually a sign of their worry. 2022 edition: vesti.ru/article/2696722
The Duma is changing the law that conscripts can now convert directly to contract service immediately upon being drafted, instead of waiting 3-4 months to go through basic training (i.e., allowing conscripts be legally eligible to fight in Ukraine immediately). (/10)
This is being done to fill holes, along with Russia’s other sources of personnel. The pressure on conscripts walking through the door to convert to contract service will be intense: large sums of money, peer pressure, lack of knowledge on rights etc. /11
What are signposts that Russia is struggling to make conscription quotas? They will extend the draft period through the summer to reach the number. They may or may not announce the extension. (/12)
a more serious signpost would be a more muscular search for those who are trying to evade or delay their summons, to once again check documents on the street, knocking on doors, going to their job, school, etc, like it was in the 90s or early 2000s. (/13)
So far there is no indication of that. There could be a lag in intake and by end of July they will announce that quotas were met. (/14)
In sum, it’s too soon to tell if there are problems in conscription that can't be recovered by the end of this summer. Some early data points suggest problems; perhaps families are holding back their sons or making deferment arrangements. I’ll keep updating this thread. (END)

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More from @MassDara

Sep 20
{Sigh} It's here at last. As i wrote, referendums to annex Ukrainian territory into Russia. They've been laying this groundwork for months. Today, accompanied by harsher penalties for desertion and refusals. Here are considerations for what's next (1/) foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/russia…
Why annex? As I wrote, because the Kremlin needs this phase of the war to end ASAP to repair itself and rebuild. They hope annexation shocks the int'l system, and their nuclear threats over "Russian territory" will compel a ceasefire, or slow down support for Ukraine. BUT: (/2)
Ukraine has made it clear it will reject annexation or this kind of ploy. The Kremlin's design is to also frighten Ukraine's supporters with escalating stakes and violence(with a background energy crisis). They've signaled as much with their strikes this week. (/3)
Read 10 tweets
Aug 29
There hasn’t been a sighting or update on Russian Gen Gerasimov in nearly two months. Yet today interfax reports that he will attend Russia’s annual strategic military exercise, Vostok, in Siberia next week. I’m mulling over whether Gerasimov is checked out of the war. (1/)
Chiefs of general staff traditionally attend these exercises like Vostok. They should have cancelled it. It’s not really surprising that they didn’t cancel it: they are still trying to pretend to the population that everything is going just fine (2/)
Maybe VVG is busy with the war and that’s why he’s gone dark. Yet, at no point in the last several months has he explained anything about the war, given meaningful interviews, or conveyed talking points. It’s off. (3/3)
Read 4 tweets
Aug 25
Thanks @OAJonsson — big Russian decree just dropped. To put this number into context— the Kremlin is authorizing adding an entire extra draft cycle’s worth of conscripts here— OR roughly half of their pre-war contractniki…(1/4)
Given the refusals and KIA among contractniki and my ongoing suspicions about their spring draft intake — I wonder if this will mean a larger draft. If that’s what it means— and it’s too early to say— it would be a major walk back for the last 15-20years of personnel policy(2/4)
Conscripts are a major recruiting pool for contractniki so maybe it’s linked to a rebuild. Either way, they are not aiming for replenishment but an expansion with this decree. where will these people come from, a larger draft, muscular recruiting campaign or mobilization? (3/4)
Read 4 tweets
Aug 15
Below, I discuss the critical period ahead for the war in Ukraine. Russia lays ground for annexing parts of Ukraine. However, there is, again, a mismatch between the Kremlin's goals and the exhausted forces it has remaining to deliver those goals (1/). foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/russia…
For months, Russia has installed Russian officials to administer occupied regions, changed area codes and ISPs to Russian ones, confiscated Ukrainian passports, imported teachers, + more, to "harmonize" the regions with Russia. This is most likely annexation groundwork (2/)
Why would Russia annex these oblasts? For many reasons, but the one I focus on is this: the Kremlin needs this phase of the war to end so it can repair and regenerate forces. I use the word phase because Russian goals for Ukraine are long-term and probably unchanged.(3/)
Read 15 tweets
Aug 1
The long-term damage to the Russian army, marines, VDV from this war cannot be overstated. It goes beyond the numbers of men killed and equipment destroyed. This will also be a story of a military generation that is damaged or gone, and who remains. /1
Heavy losses to what professional NCOs RS had, junior + field-grade officers means that the group of people who signed up in the last 10-15 years, when the military tried to reform and who knew something even a little different than 90s or Soviet military life, are gone /2
When this is over, the parts of those service branches left unscathed are conscripts, those officers or NCOs they didn't trust to go in the first place (who are back at home garrisons), senior officers who received commissions as Soviet officers (50/60 year olds) and/3
Read 6 tweets
Jul 19
Update on Russian spring conscription thread. The spring cycle was due to conclude on 15 July. It's a data poor environment in general on this, but there are no signs that there were significant problems meeting quotas in the end. Raids minimal, only small surges for alt service/
Reporting from NGOs - only isolated raids to find potential conscripts /2
and efforts to dissuade young men from signing up for alternative service show only a modest increase from already low numbers. some coercion at the voenkomat. /3
Read 4 tweets

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