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Personnel - Nationalities

KIA Most of the dead Russians killed in Ukraine are servicemen from poor regions, with the highest casualties in Dagestan and Buryatia. This became known from a study by Mediazone. Dagestanis and Buryats go to war with Ukrainians most often, so most of the victims are from these poor regions. There, the average salary is just over 20 thousand rubles a month (about 220 euros). At the same time, Mediazone found out that residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg, where a total of more than 12% of Russia's population lives, are virtually absent from reports from the front.

Russian soldiers appear most often in official propaganda. National minorities are much less common. At the same time, it often turns out that they are the ones who are fighting for Russia. There is very little real quantitative data on what kind of people go to serve in the Russian army and sign a contract. The military commissariats and the General Staff state that this is classified information. The Armed Forces don't even think about it. They don't know about the importance of representation, about the intersectionality of ethnic issues, and so on.

The Russian Federation is a multi-ethnic country, the armed forces of which are traditionally staffed by representatives of all the peoples inhabiting it. The "Strategy of the state national policy of the Russian Federation for the period up to 2025" set out the modern target setting for state and military authorities in the national question. The strategy requires "taking into account ethnic and religious aspects in work with the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, other troops, military formations and bodies, internal affairs bodies of the Russian Federation, monitoring the state of interethnic relations in military collectives and areas of deployment of military units".

It is not uncommon for those liable for military service from the national regions of Russia (in modern conditions, this is prmarily the contingent from the republics of the North Caucasus) in need of a certain social, cultural and linguistic adaptation to military service. This circumstance constantly poses a lot of practical questions to the bodies of state and military administration, which have to be solved with each next call. Should young people from national regions be called up for military service? If so, which nationalities and how many? How to organize their military service: in a general manner in ordinary military units or in a special one, as part of national formations? How to ensure their organic integration into the military collective, avoiding conflicts and, on the contrary, turning the peculiarities of their national character to the benefit of the cause?

Russia has always been a multinational country. Being the most important social institution, the army only partly reflected its ethnic structure, and more followed a complex, tortuous history of state-national construction, in which ethnic groups, standing on various supers of social and cultural development, took their place in the hierarchical structure of Russian society gradually and in the same way. unequally acquired their rights and obligations.

The Bolsheviks fully inherited the tradition of unequal attitude of ethnic groups to military service, and representatives of the new government were unable to change it with one stroke of the pen. From the first days, the Bolsheviks' reliance on local ethnic groups, who were in an unequal social and legal position in relation to the Great Russians during the autocracy, became one of the main factors in the development of the revolution and the Soviet system on the outskirts of the former Russian Empire. The bet on the non-Russian population had its own specifics, which also determined the special scenarios for the development of the Civil War here. The Bolsheviks as a whole managed to "saddle" the national movements, direct them in the right direction for themselves and take advantage of the fruits of their struggle, including armed support from the local population.

After the end of the Civil War, the formation of national units within the Red Army was declared an important political task, since, according to the Soviet leadership, it contributed to the speedy integration of the inhabitants of the national outskirts into Soviet society. Within the framework of the territorial-militia recruiting system in the 19201930s national formations reached 10% of the entire Red Army.

In the first decades of the existence of Soviet power, a unique experience was gained in attracting representatives of the peoples of the USSR to the Red Army. This work was purposeful and systematic in character (at least both of these tendencies definitely appeared after the end of the Civil War). It was carried out not only to accumulate a trained reserve for recruiting the Red Army in case of general mobilization, but was also the most important political tool for involving the national outskirts in socialist construction, one of the main elements of which was military construction.

During the Great Patriotic War, the conscription of local nationalities in the Union and Autonomous Republics, as well as the construction of national military units, received a powerful impetus due to the heavy losses of personnel and the occupation by the enemy of the traditional recruitment zone of the Red Army - a significant territory of the European part of the USSR.

During Cold War, the Soviet military tried to give the impression that soldiers of different nationalities served together harmoniously, but the number of articles in the military press devoted to relations between ethnic groups itself indicated the persistence of nationality conflict within the armed forces. Rather than contributing to nation building, service in the armed forces reportedly was more likely to increase ethnic and linguistic consciousness. In the late 1980s, the Soviet Union's non-Slavic minority groups comprised one-quarter of the conscript pool. Western experts estimated that, as Slavic birthrates declined, by the year 2000 one-third of draft-age males would be non-Slavic.

The armed forces, however, appeared to have mechanisms in place for maintaining control over national minorities in their ranks. The armed forces have been dominated by Slavs in general and Russians in particular. Russian was the only language of command, and Slavs constituted 80 percent of all combat personnel and 95 percent of the officer corps. Although more non-Slavs had to be drafted, a pervasive inability, or unwillingness, to read or speak Russian among non-Slavic, and particularly Central Asian, recruits impeded their training and advancement in the military. Because the Russian language was not taught to conscripts in the armed forces, non-Slavs had been limited to assignments in nontechnical and noncombat positions. Most Central Asian conscripts were assigned to Construction and Troop Billeting and served their two years in construction battalions. They received little combat training.

The military leadership viewed non-Slavs as potentially unreliable frontline troops. For example, Central Asian Muslim soldiers were deployed in Afghanistan during the early days of the war but had to be withdrawn because they sympathized with their co-religionists in that country. Moreover, non-Slavs were rarely assigned to the elite armed services. They were, however, recruited to serve with the Internal Troops in the Russian Republic because they could be counted on to suppress any disturbance in areas inhabited by ethnic Slavs.

The experience of building the armed forces of modern Russia showed that there are still no well-established views that would be expressed in a definite and consistent state policy when recruiting troops from representatives of a number of peoples of Russia. Thus, on the territory of the Chechen Republic, the last full-fledged conscription of citizens into the ranks of the armed forces was carried out in 1992, after which it ceased for more than twenty years. Only since 2015, a small number of Chechens have been called up again to serve in the army and other law enforcement agencies. In a number of other republics of the North Caucasus, military conscription was not formally abolished, however, by quoting conscription, the leadership of the Russian armed forces significantly reduced the influx of young people of indigenous nationalities into the troops.

In 20002010s in the structure of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation and the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, there were four battalions, staffed mainly by Chechens. This measure facilitated the process of legalization of members of illegal armed groups, many of whom went to the service of the legitimate authorities. The Chechen battalion of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation "Vostok" took part in the operation of the RF Armed Forces on the territory of South Ossetia against the Georgian troops in 2008. But gradually all Chechen units were disbanded.

On behalf of the President of the Russian Federation in the early 2010s. the possibility of creating a national regiment or one or two battalions from representatives of the peoples of Dagestan was worked out, but it was not implemented. Since 2016, units of the military police of the Russian Ministry of Defense, staffed on a national basis by Chechens, Ingush, and residents of Dagestan, have been carrying out military service on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic. Thus, there is a certain experience of national formations in modern Russia. But in general, the issues of recruiting troops by natives of the North Caucasus and the formation of national units are resolved situationally, under the influence of political circumstances.

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Page last modified: 25-05-2022 16:35:35 ZULU