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Putin’s New Ukraine Problem: Russian Soldiers Strike After No Payment

T-72 tank firing. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Russian military’s struggles in Ukraine have been widely documented on the ground thanks to social media and brave reporters and journalists covering the front lines. However, while Putin’s forces don’t seem to have any way to win the war in Ukraine comprehensively, Putin now has a new problem: some of his soldiers are not getting paid and are striking. 

More than 100 soldiers at a training center in Russia have gone on strike for not getting paid their promised salary, according to multiple reports.

The draftees, who are stationed in the southern region of Ulyanovsk, said they refuse to fight in Ukraine until they receive a promised sum of 195,000 rubles ($3,170), the independent Russian news outlet The Insider reported on Wednesday.

“We are risking our own lives to die for your safety and peaceful life!” the soldiers wrote in a statement, cited by The Insider.

“We refuse to participate in the special military operation and will seek justice until we are paid the money promised by our government, headed by the president of the Russian Federation!” they added.

(The Insider is a Russian news outlet and has no affiliation with Insider.)

Some of the draftees have also refused to attend training sessions, and the center has closed its weapons storage rooms, the Moscow Times and independent Russian news outlet Sota reported Wednesday.

Telegram videos published by The Insider and the Moscow Times show the men protesting, shouting “One for all, and all for one!”

Insider was unable to independently verify all of these reports.

Russian officials have been promising salaries to volunteers and mobilized men that are more than twice the national average, according to a Wednesday release by the Institute for the Study of War.

A financial expert told Reuters that the payouts to mobilized men may cost the Kremlin between 900 billion rubles and 3 trillion rubles ($14.6 billion to $32 billion) over the next six months.

But this is money the government might not have, as it is faced with an increasingly tight budget due to Western sanctions and the cost of Russian mobilization, Reuters reported.

In June, officials also raised salaries for contract soldiers to around 247,700 rubles ($4,000) a month, complete with bonuses for destroying planes and tanks, BBC Russia reported.

Sophia Ankel is a News Reporter based in London for Insider, where this first appeared. She also has bylines in the Guardian, The Independent, and VICE. Sophia has spoken about her work on BBC Three Radio.

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Sophia Ankel is a News Reporter based in London.