Propaganda videos have started circulating on Russian social media in recent days encouraging Russians to join the armed forces and fight in Ukraine, although the Kremlin has denied it needs more recruits.
In an attempt to attract more volunteers to the front, videos posted on social media in recent days try to attract Russian men through narratives of patriotism, morality and upward social mobility.
It is unclear whether the videos are state-sponsored.
One of the videos, posted on December 14 on the Kremlin-controlled social media platform VKontakte, shows a young man who chooses to fight instead of partying with his friends and then surprises everyone by buying a car with the money who won struggling with a military contract.
In another video, published on December 15 on VKontakte, the ex-girlfriend of a soldier has recently been impressed by his courage and asks him to be with her again. Another example shows a middle-aged man who quits his factory job that doesn’t pay him enough to sign a military contract and go to the front.
Another of the videos, also posted on VKontakte, shows a group of wealthy Russian men in their 30s loading a car while older women ask them where they are going. One of the men replies: “In Georgia. Forever.” When a woman spills a bag of groceries, the men just get in the car and drive away, instead of helping, while younger Russian men rush to pick up the groceries. “The boys have left, the men have stayed”, concludes one of the older women.
The videos were posted to a VKontakte group called “I’m Mobilized.” Many videos show war as an escape for men from the grim reality of their everyday lives of vodka drinking, poverty and impotence. Meanwhile, reports and complaints of shortages of supplies and equipment in the Russian military continue to emerge.
CNN has reached out to Russia’s Defense Ministry for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.
During a meeting with the mothers of those mobilized in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that it was better to die fighting for the motherland than to die drinking vodka.
In late September, Putin announced a “partial” military mobilization in which more than 300,000 people were mobilized across Russia as his war in Ukraine failed to make progress. The exact number of Russian soldiers killed and wounded in fighting in Ukraine has not been made public.
Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid conscription, and fears of a second mobilization in the New Year are growing.
Earlier this month, at a press conference after a summit of Eurasian countries in Kyrgyzstan, Putin sought to reassure the public that there were no plans for further mobilization.
Asked by a reporter what factors might require a new round of mobilizations, Putin said: “Today there are no such factors, we are not discussing them. I already told you, 300,000 were summoned as part of the mobilization. Let me- 150,000 (have been deployed to Ukraine). Of those, a little over half are in combat units.”
Asked about reports of continued shortages of military equipment on the front lines, Putin said he was working closely with the Russian defense ministry and that the problem was being resolved.