Russia fails to pay military reservists, civilian laborers brought into Ukraine

Communal workers clear the debris after a rocket strike near a college in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Saturday amid Russia’s military invasion. Kharkiv and surrounding areas have been the target of heavy shelling since February. Photo by Vasiliy Zhlobsky/EPA-EFE

Aug. 14 (UPI) — Russia is reportedly failing to pay military reservists and volunteer units fighting in Ukraine as well as Russian laborers brought into occupied regions.

Russian reservists and volunteer soldiers have reported that Russian authorities have failed to pay them, according to an analysis Saturday from the Institute for the Study of War, a think tank based in Washington, D.C., which cited Radio Free Europe’s news outlet Idel.Realii.

The recruits told Idel.Realii they have no experience but are being tapped as commanding officers leading at the company level or higher.

Russia has also failed to provide sufficient food, ammunition or cigarettes to soldiers, the recruits claimed to Idel.Realii.

Russia has also failed to provide for the funeral arrangements of volunteer soldiers killed in action and those who have returned home from Ukraine report having felt “deceived.”

The Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported Friday that Russian officials have detained contract soldiers who refuse to fight in special detention camps in occupied Ukraine.

The Intelligence Department at Ukraine’s Defense Ministry posted an audio clip to Telegram on Sunday purporting to be of a Russian soldier in the Kharkiv region.

In the clip, the soldier allegedly talks about the state of recruitment in Russia’s armed forces including the lifting of recruitment restrictions and notes the absence of people from Crimea, according to the intelligence officials.

The Institute for the Study of War also noted that Russian-backed occupation administrations are “likely experiencing internal challenges” that are hindering their regimes and impairing the ability of occupation officials to conduct reconstruction projects in the Donbas region of Ukraine.

MediaZona, another independent media outlet in Russia, posted a video Saturday in which workers from Russian water services company Mosvodokanal claimed they were never paid for work in the Luhansk province of Ukraine, which with Donetsk, makes up the larger Donbas region.

Petro Andryushchenko, a mayoral adviser in Mariupol, claimed in a post to Telegram on Saturday that Russian authorities brought bricklayers and electricians from St. Petersburg to Mariupol who were promised twice their salaries in Russian cities but were never paid.

“The occupiers bring workers from Russia to work in the occupied territories. They promise high salaries, but in fact they ‘throw away’ money,” Andryushchenko said.

“Local residents are not hired for these jobs, they are second-class people.”

Andryushchenko said that the laborers work without contracts and have been “abandoned” by Russia.

“If this is the attitude towards ‘their own’ then what can be said about local residents,” Andryushchenko said.

“The majority of Mariupol residents are unemployed. And those who managed to get a job are not paid wages. Because of this, the employees of the city water supply company have been protesting for several days, because they are used to decent pay for their work.”

The Institute for the Study of War said in its analysis that the pervasiveness of imported Russian labor “suggests that Russian occupation authorities are struggling to persuade or forcibly coerce meaningful numbers of Ukrainian residents to work on reconstruction projects.”

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