Russia is sending inexperienced volunteers to the front, after training them from three to seven days, the BBC's Russian Service has found out.
There are the possibilities for volunteers to go to war in Ukraine: by signing a short-term contract with the Defense Ministry, by going to Chechnya and signing a three-month contract with the Rosgvardiya, or by signing a contract with the armed formations of the self-proclaimed DNR and LNR (less often because of lower pay).
One of the volunteers who was about to sign a contract with the Defense Ministry told his story to the BBC (the BBC does not specify his real name for safety reasons):
«Well, I went. They accepted me without a physical exam. Apparently, they had to rush the shipment plan, so there was no time for inspections and medical commissions. They collected everybody in a couple of days and took them to the unit. We arrived at the unit at night. In the morning we were dressed: shoes, uniforms, a Soviet duffel bag, a waffle towel, a piece of soap, and Soviet underwear. Mine had a stamp on it: 1960.
Lots of weapons, all good, well-oiled. Ammo, too. But that's where the pros end. The range is a mess, the officers don't give a s***. No training in tactics, no cohesion of personnel. I was already shocked by this. Some of them have never held a rifle in their hands, have never seen tanks in person, and in a couple of days they were going to war. A proper military training is needed, how can it be otherwise? It's trivial, even the new shoes are too uncomfortable, they need to be worn in, blisters appear on the second day. Knowing this, I brought my own, but they made everybody wear government issue».
According to him, at the assembly station in Rostov, where he found himself, most of the volunteers were people over 45 years old, many of them with health problems:
«I, of course, understand these pensioners. They came there because of patriotism. But many of them are potbellied, half of them wear glasses. In my presence, a man had a stroke during a roll call. In general, I looked at it all and realized it was really a one-way ticket.»
Three days later the man turned down the contract and decided to return home: «At that time we had not yet signed contracts. Sowhen they lined us up for shooting practice, I just refused. And five other people got out of the line with me. It's just *** (crazy), I don't need that kind of fun.»
The volunteers who remained in the camp were shipped to Ukraine the next day and then took part in the fighting at Izyum, the BBC's interlocutor said.
«We're in touch with one guy. He served for a month, got wounded, came back. He says it was hard, he barely survived. Some guys, volunteers who came via Grozny, helped him out. They seemed to have had good lessons in tactical medicine and good first-aid kits. So they wrapped him up and pulled him out. Otherwise, he would have bled to death.»
The Insider wrote earlier about how men in Chechnya were being forcibly sent to fight in Ukraine: security officials intimidate people, torture them, and threaten them with criminal charges. Many agree to go to war in order to save their families from humiliation and themselves from terrorism charges and torture.
The Insider spoke to lawyers, human rights activists, and the families of Chechens who had been forcibly sent to war. According to them, there is no chance of refusing mobilization, and only a few manage to escape from the republic.