KEY POINTS

  • A Russian soldier was heard complaining about the quality of new recruits in a call recording 
  • He said the army recruited two drunk women who said they were 'ready' for deployment
  • A top Russian official said N. Koreans could help rebuild infrastructure in Donetsk and Luhansk

The Russian army is recruiting drunk and old people to join the war after suffering massive military losses in Ukraine, according to a new recording.

The Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on Wednesday released a recording of an intercepted phone call where a Russian soldier was heard complaining about the quality of new recruits.

“They’ve put up a tent in the middle of the city where I live. Two drunk women came along and said ‘We’re ready to go.’ They ask them what they’ll do. The women say ‘We’ll be cooks.’ And that’s it, they’ve signed them up. They sign any old person up, as long as they say they’ll go,” the soldier said in the recording.

The soldier, whose identity was not revealed, also complained about not receiving the salaries they were offered when they enlisted to join the war, noting that instead of the promised 300,000 roubles ($5,452), they were only paid 150,000 ($2,726).

Similar accounts of the Russian army recruiting people to join the war or be deployed to Ukraine have appeared in the media in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, Russian Ambassador Alexander Matsegora said North Korean workers could be sent to the Ukrainian provinces of Donestk and Luhansk to help rebuild infrastructure destroyed in the war.

“First of all, highly qualified and hardworking Korean builders, who are capable of working in the most difficult conditions, could help us restore our social, infrastructure and industrial facilities destroyed by the retreating Ukrainian Nazis,” Matsegora told Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Last week, Vadym Skibitskyi, the spokesman for the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, confirmed reports that the Russian army is recruiting prisoners with combat experience to join its “patriotic ethnic battalions” in Ukraine, despite knowing that many of them would likely die in the conflict.

In June, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported that Russian employment websites and social media channels have announced job vacancies, including a posting for an anti-aircraft gunner and contract soldier.

In addition to posting job openings, Russia’s Defense Ministry has also engaged in what some observers call a “stealth mobilization,” which includes posting a formal recruitment page on their website.

AFP was able to visit Severodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk during a press trip organised by the Russian army 
AFP was able to visit Severodonetsk and its twin city Lysychansk during a press trip organised by the Russian army  AFP / Olga MALTSEVA
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