Last Wednesday, December 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced they would be sending two “creative brigades” to the front lines. These groups would be tasked with raising the morale of troops currently deployed on the “special military operation”, as Russia has refused to describe the fighting in Ukraine as a war or invasion.
The UK Ministry of Defense reported on Russia’s new creative project on Sunday and said it followed a recent campaign by Russia to encourage the public to donate musical instruments to soldiers.
According to RBC, a Russian media outlet, the new unit will consist of soldiers that have been mobilised under President Vladimir Putin’s recruitment drive, as well as sending “professional artists who voluntarily entered military service”.
Defence Ministry officials said the new creative unit will be tasked with maintaining a “high moral, political and psychological state [among] the participants of the special military operation.”
However, they added that the new “creative brigade” is “unlikely” to have an effect on morale.
The UK Ministry of Defense added that “military music and organised entertainment” for deployed troops is common and has a “long history” in militaries.
Defence officials added that in Russia, such entertainment forces “are strongly intertwined with the Soviet era concept of ideological political education”.
During the Second World War, around 2,000 such “creative brigades” were sent to soldiers within the Red Army.
The Ministry of Defence said that the “fragile morale” among Russian soldiers is still a “significant vulnerability across much of the Russian force”.
They said: “Soldiers’ concerns primarily focus on very high casualty rates, poor leadership, pay problems, lack of equipment and ammunition, and lack of clarity about the war’s objectives.”
The news comes one day after a senior Russian military figure seemed to accidentally reveal that the conscription time for Russian soldiers would double.
Lieutenant Colonel Mikhail Fotina said in an interview on Russian TV that there were plans to “lengthen the period of conscription for young men from one to two years”.
He added that “those conscripted in autumn 2023 will serve two years”.
The interview was quickly removed from television, and Russia has made no official announcement on the issue.
If the recruitment drive is confirmed by the Russian Government, it may prove unpopular with the Russian public as there was backlash when Vladimir Putin first announced the partial mobilisation of more troops in September.
In a televised announcement, Mr Putin said: “Military service will apply only to citizens who are currently in the reserve, especially those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience.”
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It’s also been confirmed that Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu visited units in southern Ukraine in an attempt to boost morale.
On Telegram, it was reported that the Defense Minister ”flew around the areas of deployment of troops and checked the advanced positions of Russian units in the zone of the special military operation”.
It was also reported that Mr Shoigu “spoke with troops on the front line” at a command post.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, Ukraine’s military spokesman, said to Ukrainian media: “I don’t really believe that [Sergei Shoigu] is so brave” to travel to a warzone.