The Russian Federation has launched a large-scale drive to form volunteer battalions in the 85 “federal subjects” (or regions) that comprise the federation. Recruiting for some volunteer battalions began in June but has intensified in July, with new volunteer units being reported daily. The battalions apparently will consist of roughly 400 men each aged between 18 and 60. They will belong to various branches of service including motorized rifle, tank, and naval infantry, but also signals and logistics. Recruits are not required to have prior military service and will undergo only 30 days of training before deployment to Ukraine.
This recruitment effort will likely be expensive if it comes close to meeting its targets. It appears that the Russian Ministry of Defense will pay the volunteers’ salaries while the “federal subjects” will pay their enlistment bonuses. Salaries generally start at roughly $3,000 per month per soldier or about $1.2 million per month per 400-man unit. Enlistment bonuses offered by at least some units appear to be roughly a month’s salary. If the effort generates 85 battalions each of 400 men it would bring an additional 34,000 volunteers into the fight at the cost of about $102 million per month in salary alone. Considering that the 30 days of training the volunteers will receive before entering combat will not produce combat-ready soldiers, that price is very high. The volunteers will receive veteran status and benefits if they serve in Ukraine, moreover, in addition to their salaries and bonuses, a commitment that will add to the Russian Federation budget for decades.
This drive will likely produce “soldiers” of lower quality than the normal conscripts in the Russian army at close to professional-soldier prices. It is a remarkable expedient that suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin remains unwilling to compel his people to fight and unable to attract them to fight voluntarily without considerable incentives.