Russia is scrambling to recruit men to fight in Ukraine after major losses in the early months of the war left the army stretched thin, and some soldiers disenchanted.
The Kremlin has so far declined to order a general mobilization of draft-age soldiers because this could signal that the war is not proceeding as well as depicted in the Russian media and threaten to stir grassroots resistance to the military campaign.
Instead, the military has embarked on a campaign to expand the ranks of active soldiers who have voluntarily signed contracts by cold-calling eligible men and trying to reactivate reservists. “These efforts represent a form of shadow mobilization. These are piecemeal efforts that allow the Russian military to sustain itself in the war but do not address the fundamental deficit in manpower,” wrote Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at CNA, a think tank in Virginia, in a recent analysis.