Sunday, January 18, 2015

Even If True, Who Cares?

The needs of Russia bear no relation to the supposed solution of a Russian Foreign Legion that this article speculates Russia will build.

So Russia's new acceptance into their army of foreigners who speak Russian is a sign that a Russian Foreign Legion is being built?

Russia's military involvement in Eastern Ukraine currently consists of soldiers and mercenaries from far-flung federal republics such as Chechnya, as well as Ukrainian citizens who are ethnic Russians and wish to support Moscow's efforts to create pro-Russian political entities in the Donbas region. If Ukraine is to serve as a model of Russia's new mode of hybrid warfare, combining special forces and regular military personnel with "rebel" or "militia" formations in areas Moscow deems militarily important, it should be logical to assume that numerous volunteers could be recruited for other such missions. Which brings Russia to the next logical step in its emerging military strategy: allowing foreigners to serve in the Russian armed forces. ...

The [Russian newspaper] analysis concluded that "a lot of young men from near and far abroad, who know the Russian language and had time to get a higher education, are a welcome boon for the General Staff ... According to our data, volunteers are already available. So it is very possible that in the near future, the Russian military will have its own foreign legion."

One, France's Foreign Legion was once very useful because France couldn't send draftees to fight abroad and because it was easier on home morale for "foreign" troops to die for France. Russia has no problem with sending their own troops into Ukraine.

Two, lots of French actually enlisted in the Foreign Legion. Say you are from Belgium and nobody looks closely at you any more than they look closely at actual foreigners. So this is less of "foreign" source of manpower than you'd think. In some ways the French system is a formalized form of Russia's "contract" soldiers recruited from Russians.

Three, recruiting soldiers and mercenaries from far flung republics of Russia is no more creating a foreign legion than our recruiting in Alaska and Hawaii represents a "foreign" legion in our military. I hate to be obvious, but whether near or far flung, those republics are part of Russia.

Four, Russia does this aggression quietly and with the existing system. Why would they formalize a Russian Foreign Legion that would advertise Russian involvement?

While Russia's recruitment of Russian-speaking foreigners is one way to help with recruit shortages, I imagine this is just a way to make something out of a generally bad development--the reverse Russification of former Soviet republics as those Russian speakers leave Central Asian nations especially.

There is nothing logical about Russia following a path to set up a formal Russian Foreign Legion.

And if they do, it really wouldn't change Russia's actions, anyway.