Moscow has begun a new campaign to encourage Russians to enlist in the armed forces and fight in Ukraine, despite the Kremlin having previously denied needing more recruits.
In an attempt to attract more volunteers to the front, Russian propaganda videos posted on social networks over the last few days seek to appeal to Russian men through the narratives of patriotism, morality and upward social mobility.
Many clips portray the war as an escape for men from the bleak reality of their daily lives — which consists of drinking vodka, poverty and helplessness, according to the videos.
One of the pieces, posted on Dec. 14, features a young man who is choosing to fight instead of partying with his friends and then surprises everyone by buying himself a car with the money he made from fighting on a military contract.
In a video posted on Dec. 15, the former girlfriend of a soldier is newly impressed with his courage and begs him to get back together. In another video, a middle-aged man leaves the factory job that doesn’t pay him enough to sign a military contract and go to the front.
Another of the videos shows posh-looking Russian men in their 30s loading a car. An elderly woman asks where are they going, to which one of the men says, “To Georgia. Forever.”
When another woman spills a bag of groceries, instead of helping, the posh men just get into the car and leave, while a group of younger Russian men rush to pick up the groceries. “The boys have left, the men stayed,” one of the elderly women says.
Meanwhile, reports and complaints of shortages of provisions and equipment in the Russian military continue to emerge, which Russian President Vladimir Putin has promised to resolve.
During a meeting with mothers of the mobilized in November, Putin insinuated that it is better to be killed fighting for the country than to drink oneself to death on vodka.
More background: In late September, Putin announced a “partial mobilization,” which saw over 300,000 people across Russia mobilized as its war in Ukraine failed to make progress. The mobilization ended on Nov. 1, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. The exact number of dead Russian soldiers in Ukraine remains unknown.
Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid enlisting, and fears of a second mobilization in the new year are mounting.
Putin has attempted to reassure the public that there were no plans right now for additional mobilization.