NewsRussian army draws recruits from poor Asian regions, causing surge in household bank deposits

Russian army draws recruits from poor Asian regions, causing surge in household bank deposits

Putin is recruiting for war residents from the poorest regions of the country.
Putin is recruiting for war residents from the poorest regions of the country.
Images source: © Pixabay | DimitroSevastopol

10:27 AM EST, February 23, 2024

The unusual rise in account balances is the result of salaries earned by soldiers and compensation provided for severe injuries or death during the war. Officially, the Russian authorities withhold information regarding the number of people mobilized, their residential areas, as well as the human casualty count on the battlefront.

However, valuable insights about the extent of Russian mobilization can be derived from an analysis of regional bank data in Russia, as stressed in a study published by the Bank of Finland's Institute of Emerging Economies.

Russia’s primary recruits for war hail from its poorest regions

"Economic indicators and other institutional factors do not justify such a swift rise in the deposit size of the residents in these regions. This is because, across Russia's territory, incomes generally fall below the minimum wage," argues Laura Solanko, a researcher specializing in Russian economy and sanctions imposed on the Kremlin.

In August 2023, a yearly deposit growth rate of over 25 percent (almost a year following the mobilization announcement in Russia) was observed in several regions, with the highest increase, amounting to 53 percent, recorded in Tuva. Tuvans, those of Turkish descent, compose nearly 90 percent of this republic's population. In Finnish media, it is highlighted that Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu hails from this region.

The list also includes Siberian regions such as Buryatia and the Altai Krai, alongside Chechnya in the North Caucasus and Kalmykia near the Caspian Sea. Most of these regions are predominantly non-Slavic in origin, as underscored in the report.

Attractive monetary benefits lure recruits

In comparison to average daily earnings, the high wages bargaining for wartime participation have lured individuals from the poorer regions to the military. It's noted that the average monthly salary in Russia stood around 62,000 rubles, equating to approximately $330 USD, in August 2022. However, in the Caucasian and Siberian regions, the average salary was lowered to about 35,000 - 53,000 rubles. Yet, soldiers were promised 700,000 rubles ($8,910 USD roughly), which equates to an annual salary.

As per a decree from the head of state in 2022, injured soldiers are entitled to compensation that amounts to several million rubles. In the event of death, even higher compensation is due to the family - as underlined by Finnish media.

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