Russian women prisoners get $2k/mth offer to fight Ukraine


Berlin: The Russian army is expanding the role of women as it seeks to balance President Vladimir Putin‘s promotion of traditional family roles with the need for new recruits for the war in Ukraine.
The military’s stepped-up appeal to women includes efforts to recruit female inmates in prisons, replicating on a much smaller scale a strategy that has swelled its ranks with male convicts.Recruiters in military uniforms toured Russian jails for women in the fall of 2023, offering inmates a pardon and $2,000 a month – 10 times the national minimum wage – in return for serving in front-line roles for a year, according to six current and former inmates of three prisons in different regions of Russia.
Dozens of inmates just from those prisons have signed military contracts or applied to enlist, the women said, a sampling that – along with local media reports about recruitment in other regions – suggests a broader effort to enlist female convicts.
It’s not just convicts. Women now feature in Russian military recruitment advertisements across the country.
A pro-Kremlin paramilitary unit fighting in Ukraine also recruits women. “Combat experience and military specialties are not required,” read an advertisement aimed at women that was posted in March in Russia’s Tatarstan region. It offered training and a sign-up bonus equivalent to $4,000. “We have one goal – victory!”
Putin has placed women at the core of this vision, portraying them as child-bearers, mothers and wives guarding the nation’s social harmony. “The most important thing for every women, no matter what profession she has chosen and what heights she has reached, is the family,” Putin said in a speech March 8. These clashing military and social priorities have resulted in contradictory policies that seek to recruit women to the military to fill a need but send conflicting signals about the roles women can assume there.
“I have gotten used to the fact that I am often looked at like a monkey – like, ‘Wow, she’s in fatigues!'” said Ksenia Shkoda, a native of central Ukraine who has fought for pro-Russian forces since 2014.
Some female volunteers do not make it to Ukraine. The convicts who enlisted in late 2023 have yet to be sent to fight, the six former and current inmates said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of possible retribution.

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