How A Russian Mercenary Company Is Recruiting Women In Eastern Ukraine
As Russian casualties in Ukraine mount, a Ministry of Defense-supervised mercenary company is recruiting women for combat roles, for the first time ever.
A pro-Russian battalion in the Eastern Ukrainian region of Donetsk has announced a recruitment drive targeting women for combat positions. The "Borz" battalion is led by the "Redut" private military company (PMС), which operates under the supervision of the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The recruitment announcement was posted on VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It signals a departure from the traditionally male-dominated composition of military forces and seeks to establish a female sniper unit and a female unit for operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
Recruiting for combat positions
A recruiter for the battalion, with the call sign Vesta, told Russian independent news site “Vazhnye Istorii” that the unit intends to challenge gender stereotypes in warfare. "We initially had only men, but now we want to show that women are also capable,” she said. “My task as the unit commander is to prove that women are not just meant for the kitchen and childcare."
The involvement of women in combat roles is not uncommon.
The recruitment drive offers six-month contracts with salaries starting at 220,000 Russian rubles ($2,350). Compensation for injuries ranges from 1 to 3 million rubles ($10,600-$32,000), while a significant sum of 5 million rubles ($53,000) is promised to the families of female recruits if they die. Those without prior firearms experience will receive training in Donetsk, lasting one month.
This is the first recruitment cycle of many, Vesta noted, and although positions for UAV operators are reportedly filled, they are still actively seeking female snipers.
The involvement of women in combat roles is not uncommon in the ongoing conflict in Eastern Ukraine. However, they have typically been assigned to traditionally "female" positions such as medics and cooks.
Women belonging to the Borz battalion
Video sreenshot/VKontakte/Important Stories
Women joining up
Two women, Julia Sheremet from Donetsk (callsign "Demon") and Natalia Nikonorova from the Ural region (callsign "Valkyrie"), posted on VKontakte declaring their participation in the "Borz" battalion. Julia is training to become a UAV operator and sniper, while Natalia serves as nurse.
Moreover, 23-year-old Karina Kambarova, was also found to be fighting alongside her husband, Anton Borisov, in the "Borz" battalion.
The group's activities are closely linked to the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and are led by Dmitry Zipir, whose callsign, "Borz," translates as “wolf” from Chechen. Ukrainian intelligence agencies have previously connected him to the Donetsk People's Republic's Ministry of State Security.
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