(CNN) Russia has launched a new campaign to encourage Russians to join the armed forces and fight in Ukraine, though the Kremlin has denied needing more recruits.
In an attempt to attract more volunteers to the front, Russian propaganda videos posted on social media in recent days attempt to appeal to Russian men through narratives of patriotism, morality, and upward social mobility.
One of the videos, posted on December 14, shows a young man who chooses to fight instead of partying with his male friends, then surprises everyone by buying a car with money he earned fighting a military contract.
In another video, posted on December 15, a soldier’s ex-girlfriend is impressed with his courage and begs him to come back to her. Another example shows a middle-aged man leaving a factory job that does not pay enough to sign a military contract and go to the front.
Another of the videos shows a group of Russian men in their thirties loading a car while some old women ask them where they are going. One of the men replies: “Georgia. Always.” When a woman drops a bag of groceries, the men just jump in the car and drive away, rather than help, while younger Russian men rush to pick up the groceries. “The boys are gone, they’re gone. The men were left”, concludes one of the old women.
Many of the videos portray the war as an escape from the grim daily reality in which the men live of vodka drinking, poverty and hopelessness. Meanwhile, reports and complaints are surfacing about supply and equipment shortages in the Russian military.
During a meeting with the mothers of mobilized recruits in November, Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was better to die fighting for the homeland than to die drinking vodka.
At the end of September, Putin announced a “partial” military mobilization that mobilized more than 300,000 people across Russia while his war in Ukraine stalled. The exact number of Russian soldiers killed and wounded in the fighting in Ukraine has not been made public.
Thousands of men have fled Russia to avoid the draft and fears are mounting of a second mobilization in the New Year.
Earlier this month, addressing a news conference after a summit of Eurasian countries in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Putin tried to reassure the public that there were no plans for further mobilization.
Asked by a journalist what factors could interfere for a new round of mobilization to take place, Putin said: “There are no such factors today, we are not discussing them. I already told you, 300,000 were summoned as part of the mobilization. Let me repeat once again 150,000 (they have been deployed to Ukraine). Of those, a little more than half are in combat units.”
Asked about reports of continued shortages of military equipment at the front, Putin said he was working closely with the Russian Defense Ministry and the problem was being resolved.