Struggling Putin pays recruits families in fish as war effort crumbles

Russia: Vladimir Putin 'is losing' says Scott Lucas

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Vladimir Putin has been paying the families of army recruits with fresh fish in order to incentivise them to join the war effort. Mikhail Shuvalov, the local chief of President Putin’s ruling party, promised residents of the far-eastern Sakhalin island 5kg of flounder, pollock and salmon in exchange for sending their men to the war in Ukraine. Speaking about the offer, Russian political analyst Anton Barbashin said it is a “true indication of poverty”.

Speaking to the Times, he explained: “We take your husband and you get to eat for a few weeks.

“That’s a true indication of poverty officials want everyone to forget.”

In the Tuva region of Russia, families have been offered one sheep, coal, 50kg of flour and two bags of potatoes for each family member dispatched to the front.

So far, more than 50,000 Russian soldiers are thought to have been killed in the war.

Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu said that more than 200,000 recruits have been conscripted into the war since a “partial mobilisation” was announced on September 21.

This is Russia’s first mobilisation since World War 2.

But many Russian men fled the country in the wake of the announcement, sparking fears of a brain drain.

According to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), the exact number of people fleeing Russia is unclear but “it likely exceeds the size of the total invasion force” deployed into Ukraine when Moscow first invaded the country in February.

The MoD said: “The better off and well educated are over-represented amongst those attempting to leave Russia.

“When combined with those reservists who are being mobilised, the domestic economic impact of reduced availability of labour and the acceleration of ‘brain drain’ is likely to become increasingly significant.”

Putin’s war effort appears to be stalling, with Volodymyr Zelensky’s army having retaken more than 6,000 sq km of land since the start of September, according to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

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The ISW said Russian forces are facing a “major operational defeat”.

Meanwhile, the US Defense Department estimated that as many as 80,000 Russian troops may have been killed or wounded since the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine began on February 24 2022.

The retaking of Ukrainian land by Mr Zelensky’s forces has occurred in both the south and the east.

Izyum and Kupiansk, towns in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine, were taken by Ukraine around three weeks ago.

Both towns are key hubs for the supply of Russian forces in Donbas.

Russia confirmed it had withdrawn from the towns, saying that the retreat would allow its troops to “regroup”.

While Russia still holds about a fifth of Ukraine, the pushback from Ukrainian forces is seen by some analysts as a mark of success for the war effort.

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