For new soldiers, Russia's mobilization is BYOB - bring your own battle gear

Unverified video footage was posted to Twitter on Sept. 26, showing an officer telling new soldiers to buy their own first aid equipment. 

 Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation smoke next to buses as they depart for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022. (photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK)
Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation smoke next to buses as they depart for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022.
(photo credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK)

Much of Russia's newly-enlisted military force has had to turn to private citizens and organizations to supply their basic needs, according to Russian media — Or buy the gear themselves.

Unverified video footage was posted to Twitter on Sept. 26, showing an officer telling fresh soldiers to buy their own first aid equipment. 

Russian news sources RIA and The Moscow Times both reported in early October that Russian troops were relying on the generosity and patriotic vigor of Russian citizenry for clothing, field equipment and medical supplies. RIA reported that military and camping equipment stores have been thoroughly ransacked, making any supplies difficult to find. 

What is more, The Moscow Times reported that equipment prices are skyrocketing in light of high demand and low supply. 6B45 body armor, a critical piece of protective equipment, is reportedly selling on Russian online marketplace Avito for 40,000 roubles ($700).

 Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation attend a ceremony before departure for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK) Reservists drafted during the partial mobilisation attend a ceremony before departure for military bases, in Sevastopol, Crimea September 27, 2022. (credit: REUTERS/ALEXEY PAVLISHAK)

The items in highest demand are reportedly thermal underwear, backpacks and tactical vests. 

An online group, Help for Soldiers, run by Russian citizen Yevgenia Kuzevanova, has been pooling resources to buy everything from food to first aid kits. The group is primarily active on Russian social network VKontakte. The Moscow Times reports that on October 2, the organization posted: “Today our goal is medicines. We are focusing on dressings, hemostatic agents (very necessary and important), painkillers (weak and strong), cold and cough remedies, antihistamines and anti-shock drugs.”

Another group, We Don't Give Up On Our Own, posted on Sept. 23 that “the fighters have asked for a weather station and barometer, a drone, a diesel generator, body armor, 10 [pieces of] camouflage netting, a camp bed, 15 lots of winter clothing, and 200 polypropylene bags."

The same story four months later

This latest supply shortage comes as a direct result of the partial mobilization decree signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the end of September. However, this issue is not a new one for the Russian military. The New York Times reported on a similar phenomenon in May. At that time, the most desired items for soldiers to receive in care packages were drones and night-vision scopes. Citizens in May were also using the VKontakte website to gather medical supplies such as bandages, antibiotics, crutches and wheelchairs.