Russia is mobilizing around 30,000 people every month, or around 1,000-1,100 recruits daily, Vadym Skibitsky, deputy head of Ukraine's military intelligence agency (HUR), said in an interview with RBC-Ukraine published on Jan. 15.
The main factor motivating men to join the military is the pay, according to Skibitsky. He said that while the salary level may vary, those fighting in Ukraine make around 220,000-250,000 rubles ($1,700-1,900) a month.
"Russian prisoners of war frankly admit that they joined the army because they are paid, citing mortgages, families, and so on. And this motive is currently the main one for those people who voluntarily go for mobilization, sign contracts, and fight," Skibitsky said.
Skibitsky said that those driven to join the army for financial reasons are primarily from Russia’s regions where salaries are low and there are higher levels of unemployment.
As of early January, more than 460,000 Russian soldiers are deployed across occupied Ukrainian territories, according to HUR estimates.
Skibitsky noted that Russia's mobilization efforts are less aggressive than in October-December 2022 but that it has “all the conditions” to increase it “at any time.” National Security and Defense Council Secretary Oleksii Danilov warned that Russia may begin another mass mobilization after the 2024 Russian presidential election on March 17.
“To create a powerful strategic reserve, they really need to mobilize — that's for sure. Will Putin dare to do this? Not before the election, probably not. And then we'll see. It is too early to talk about this now,” Skibitsky said.
The U.K. Defense Ministry said in an intelligence update on Jan. 15 that a claim by Dmitri Medvedev, Russia’s deputy chair of the security council, that 500,000 people had joined the Russian Armed Forces in 2020 was "highly likely substantially inflated.”
The report also said that it is “highly likely that Russian military recruitment to sustain the war has disproportionately drawn from impoverished and rural regional communities.