OT - Military Service in Russia

Stumbled on this while looking for something more specific. Those of you who think they can’t be that bad … may be surprise to hear that it is far worst than “that bad”.


Military Service in Russia

Conscription is supposed to be universal but it is easy to bribe your way out of the military for a few thousand dollars. With Chechnya a choice facing many soldiers in the 1990s, many young men did whatever they could to raise the money for the bribe. The rich can generally get out of their military service either by a student deferment or paying the bride.

Military Training and Schools in Russia
According to Russian and Western reports, inadequate funding and bad organization have caused all of the armed forces to suffer from extremely poor training. Although numerous top military leaders criticized this situation, little progress has been made in the mid-1990s. In 1996 the Ministry of Defense administered a multilevel system of military training institutions, none of which had full enrollment in the mid-1990s.

This means that by 1996 the armed forces had passed through more than ten cycles without conducting any serious training. *

The air forces of the Russian Federation are the most technologically sensitive of the armed forces. Modern high-performance aircraft demand skilled crews to operate and maintain them. However, in 1995 General Deynekin reported receiving only 30 percent of required funding for fuel, equipment, and parts in 1995 — a shortfall that cut pilot flight time in operational squadrons to thirty to forty hours per year, approximately three hours per month in the cockpit. By contrast, the United States standard for pilot proficiency is 180 to 260 hours per year. *

Problems Suffered by Russian Soldiers

Russian soldiers have been having a hard time since the collapse of the Soviet Union. In the 1990s some units were eliminated. Soldiers in units that remained often went without pay and endured other difficult circumstances. In many ways the best and brightest find ways to avoid the draft and stay out of the military many of those that end up in the military are poorly educated and have few skills.

In post-Soviet period, the quantity and quality of recruits have dropped dramatically because of the Chechnya conflict, low pay, and adverse service conditions. In the air force draft of spring 2006, only 20 percent of conscripts were found fit for combat units. The tradition of hazing new recruits drew increased public criticism in the early 2000s, but the practice continued to discourage enlistment. In mid-2006 the Ministry of Defense announced that the first phase of the plan to create an all-volunteer armed force would conclude in 2008, with special emphasis on professionalizing the rank of sergeant (to reduce hazing) and personnel in airborne units and units designated for conflict. However, in 2006 large numbers of early contract cancellations reduced the prospects of meeting program goals. [Source: Library of Congress, October 2006]

It is not unusual in Russia for soldiers to live with their wife and children in single room measuring 1.5-x-2.5 meters. …

… Families of field-grade officers subsist in tents or packing crates salvaged from troop redeployments from Central Europe. In other cases, homeless military families have been sheltered for years at a time in gymnasiums or warehouses set up like emergency shelters. [Source: Library of Congress, July 1996 *]

Poor Health and Suicides Among Russian Soldiers
Soldiers in the Russian military endure little food, malnutrition, and poor housing with no heat or hot water. There are high rates of hepatitis, tuberculosis, malnutrition, AIDS, drug addiction, mental illness and suicides among conscripts. Many come down with Hepatitis C contacted from sharing razors with other soldiers. Soldiers sometimes go months without seeing fresh meat, milk or eggs and have heath problems related to lack of vitamins and fruit in their diets. Rations generally consist preserved fish and canned food. Many units live off emergency rations, and even bread is considered a luxury. In the 1990s, soldiers in some remote outposts were on the edge of starving. Many survive off emergency rations of dried bread and killed stray dogs for meat.

Much more at the link but I think I’ve overshot the allowed amount already.



I’ve worked with many Russians, mostly former Russians, over the decades. And Russians vary dramatically, both in opinions, political or otherwise, in interests, in outlook, and in anything/everything else. The ONLY universal thing that I’ve found among ALL [male] Russians is that … serving in the Russian army sucks, and sucks big time.


Although, most of the information referenced in that article is 26 years old, and the most recent sources are 14-16 years old… not saying the situation has vastly improved, obviously, but VP might have gotten some improvements done. Based on what has happened in Bucha and elsewhere, many soldiers have been turned into indiscriminate killers.

I would have been shocked (I guess I am a little surprised by some of the OP), but since almost the beginning of the Ukraine war, this is not surprising at all.

The retired U.S. generals, admirals and other military leaders who are now analysts on cable news have been quite clear about how Russian retreat was possible: complete chaos in leadership, poor training, lousy equipment, deception of mission and lack of necessities in the ranks, all of which has led to dissension.

p.s. the idea of being able to buy your way out of being drafted was one of the first political understandings I had as a U.S. teenager, due to the Vietnam War of course.