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Semafor LogoDiego Mendoza
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Russian ads entice cash-strapped families to join the military so they can afford cellphones and groceries

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Title iconThe Videos

Two Russian military recruitment ads circulating on social media appear to target the country’s poverty-stricken population by showing how struggling families are enticed by the financial benefits of joining the army. The Kremlin has denied that it needs more recruits to fight its ongoing war in Ukraine.

In one of the ads, a daughter shows her friend the money she's saved up to buy a new cellphone, only for her father to ask for her piggy-bank savings after he doesn't get his salary. After overhearing his daughter and friend reflect about their parents' previous military service, the father is inspired to rejoin the barracks.

The video ends with the father returning home after the "special military operation" and having enough money to buy his daughter a new cellphone.

The original source of the video is unclear, but it was shared last week by a BBC Monitoring reporter who tracks Russian media.

The second ad -- uploaded to the pro-Russia Dvach Telegram channel and confirmed to be Russia-commissioned by a Bellingcat reporter -- shows an old man struggling to afford groceries. He and his grandson decide to sell his beloved car. An interested buyer arrives with only half the requested amount for the car.

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Desperate for money, the old man considers the offer, only for his grandson to brush off the buyer. Now wearing a military uniform, the young man tells his grandfather that they no longer need to worry about selling the car.

Title iconStep Back

Russia is an economic crisis with global sanctions and growing inflation caused by its war in Ukraine. A UN report found that the war will push at least 8 million Russians below the poverty line.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a "partial mobilization" of 300,000 troops in September to assist in Ukraine. Despite the mobilization period now over -- and Putin insisting that no more recruits are needed -- recent propaganda videos like these appear to contradict the Kremlin's statements, CNN reported.

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