As some of you out there already know, “dozens” of contract soldiers have deserted from a base near Maikop, refusing to be sent to Ukraine. Some of them have already been charged with desertion, with one of the defendants apparently facing as many as ten years. In spite of this, the Kremlin feigns ignorance about the phenomenon, which actually has precedents from the previous year in other locations, thus proving once again that it is incompetent.
Now this leads to yet another inconvenient question. Why would troops, contract troops in fact, risk the consequences of desertion if there are no Russian troops fighting in Ukraine? Perhaps they were unaware of the potential 10-year sentence, but they must have known that desertion is a serious crime in any military. Why would so many take that risk for something that is supposedly not happening?
Now the typical Kremlin fan, apart from sputtering accusations about “Western propaganda,” might try to claim that all these soldiers were somehow scared by rumors. Indeed, rumors are an every day part of military life. I remember one day in AIT when a member of my class was breathlessly announcing that the US was going to war with China over that incident involving a spy plane. In spite of the implication that we’d be in for a long war against the world’s largest army, none of us considered desertion. As best I can remember our response was to inform our brother-in-arms that he was in fact, a dumbass.
Yet it would seem like this particular army base, and indeed a few others on Russian territory, have some very slick, sophisticated rumormongers, ones which were apparently able to convince a significant number of conscripts and contract volunteers that being sent to fight in Ukraine was a realistic possibility, in spite of all the official statements to the contrary. They must have been quite convincing indeed, seeing as how since the first time this issue was raised last year, there can be no doubt that responsible officers and NCOs must have informed their charges that there were no Russian troops in Ukraine and thus no reason to fear being sent there.
Historically, using rumors to spread panic within the military has often been a serious offense, often punishable by death in wartime. Obviously nobody expects or wishes Russia to charge these individuals with a capital crime (Russia doesn’t have the death penalty anyway), but such a concerted campaign of rumormongering should be seen as deliberate sabotage and I’m totally confident that the Russian armed forces will not only find out who has been causing their soldiers to desert, but also prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. Yup, I’d expect that announcement any day now.
At least that’s what we ought to expect- if there are indeed no Russian troops operating in Ukraine.