Even Buryatia, which is a mountainous republic in eastern Siberia almost 3,500 miles away from Moscow, was feeling the pinch. “Today, Buryatia experienced one of the most terrible nights in its history,” Alexandra Garmazhapova, president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, said. Military recruiters were knocking on doors to try to find young men of fighting age. Many of these same men are hiding out or trying to flee, rather than get called into service. And in the capital, schools have been transformed into conscription centers.
Many of those who are receiving personal summons were previously arrested for protesting in Moscow. And in addition to these men, the country is watching a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities who are being sent to the front lines to fight and die. “The region is home to nearly 1 million people, some 30 percent of whom are ethnically Buryat and share close cultural and historic ties with Mongolia.”
The story gets worse. Yakutia is a large but very thinly populated region in northeastern Siberia that is home to ethnic Yakuts. “According to local media, 4,500 men are expected to be recruited from the region. In Dagestan, a majority Muslim republic in southern Russia, local men can be seen arguing with an unidentified official encouraging them to enlist. ‘You are fighting for your children’s future,’ said the woman.” For many people in the area, there seems to be no future at all.
Because of its vast history and expansion, there are more than 160 different ethnic groups in Russia, with ethnic and indigenous groups making up 20 percent of the country’s population, according to 2002 numbers.
Because of the secrecy of the Russians, the number of Russian casualties is not currently known for certain. But it does seem that based on estimates, there are a disproportionate number of deaths from the poor regions of the country, while fewer soldiers from the Moscow region have died.
But for those who are from poor families with very few options, the army offered a salary and a way to support themselves. “The army for them before the war was a good way to earn money and take care of their mortgages,” said Natalia Arno, president of the Free Russia Foundation, who is originally from the region.
According to Adnan Zai, Advisor to Berkeley Capital, “Putin’s end game is to get the current territories to be annexed much like he did in Crimea. With his latest laws of conscription, his popularity will fade.”
There is no doubt that Putin is feeling the heat and trying to get himself out of the fire. But with his recent military mobilization tactics, he is playing with fire and bound to get burned