A week after the start of the war in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin promised that anyone injured on the battlefield could claim compensation of three million rubles, about $50,000, or four times the salary of a Russian worker. years. But due to last-minute legislation and red tape, getting compensation is difficult or impossible, according to reports Reuters.
“It is our duty to support the families of our fallen or wounded war comrades,” Putin said in early March when he announced the compensation.
But as the number of wounded soldiers mounts, some of them discover that Putin’s gesture was not as generous as it seemed. Reuters has learned that some wounded soldiers — including those with serious injuries — are having trouble getting compensation, based on interviews with four wounded Russian soldiers, a relative of a wounded soldier, two people involved in support groups representing soldiers and a lawyer.
In some cases, an overlooked clarification of the rules lowered the eligibility criteria; Others face bureaucratic hurdles and delays.
Maxim Grebeniuk, who runs a Moscow-based advocacy organization called the Military Ombudsman, which provides legal advice to soldiers, said he has received hundreds of requests for help from wounded soldiers seeking compensation.
He told officials that “there is some social tension among army personnel” over these payments.
Russia’s Defense Ministry, Health Ministry and the Kremlin did not respond to Reuters queries for this article. They also did not respond to questions about the number of soldiers injured or killed.
Putin said in April that the Russian government must ensure “the fulfillment of all obligations for the well-being of soldiers, especially those who have suffered injuries.”
But five months after Putin invaded Ukraine, Ukraine and its Western allies say the conflict is hurting Russia’s military and the country’s economy because of international sanctions. The United States estimates that 45,000 Russian soldiers were wounded and 15,000 killed during the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan War.
The three soldiers who spoke to Reuters also spoke of the heavy losses suffered by their units. A man who said he was a platoon commander said half his unit of 200 men had been killed or wounded over a two-month period. A 20-year-old soldier said his regiment originally had 700 men, but by June only about 100 were fit for battle, the rest dead, wounded or refusing to fight. Reuters could not independently verify these testimonies.
Russia, which says it is conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine, has not released casualty figures after the Defense Ministry said 1,351 people had been killed and 3,825 wounded since March 25. Ukraine also recorded the highest number of casualties. Kiev said in June that 100 to 200 Ukrainian soldiers were being killed every day.
Hospitals are also facing problems. Some wounded Russian soldiers arrive at hospitals without enough beds, doctors or equipment, according to soldiers and officials involved in Moscow’s military operations.
Putin announced on national television on March 3 that compensation would be paid to the injured soldiers at a Security Council meeting. Two days later, he issued a decree establishing compensation, commonly referred to among soldiers as “presidential pay.”
Three million rubles will be paid to anyone who suffered “concussion, injury or disfigurement” while serving in the Russian security forces in Ukraine, the decree said.
7 weeks later, on April 22, the Ministry of Defense released details of the payment, and to qualify, injuries must be among those described in the official list.
Sergey Krivenko, head of the support group called “Citizen”. Army. “Rights,” which helps veterans fight for justice, believes the decision was driven by rising costs.
“After all, three million is a lot. It turns out that many more are eligible,” he said. The Kremlin and the Defense Ministry did not respond to questions about the reason for the rule change.
A Russian soldier was surprised by the change as he described the casualties in his battalion. He said he was a gunner in an anti-tank unit and served in heavy fighting in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Like other players who spoke to Reuters, he asked to remain anonymous because he fears he will be reprimanded for speaking to the media.
He said that based on the hospital’s diagnosis, he was found ineligible for compensation after he sustained a leg injury.
Two other players were told by doctors that their injuries did not meet certain eligibility criteria.
One of the soldiers, in his 40s, was injured in the arm by shrapnel from a mine. The doctors told him that the so-called President’s Allowance would only be given to people with bone injuries or severe injuries. He was told his injury was “soft tissue only” and therefore disqualified, he said. The army still demanded compensation, but received no official response.
Other players were not expressly told that they were not eligible for compensation, but did not receive it.
One young man told Reuters that he was near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv in early April when a shell landed near him, overturning the truck he was unloading and breaking his toes.
He says he applied for compensation of three million rubles in April and received no response, so he wrote to the military prosecutor seeking an explanation. He received a letter from the military attorney’s office in July, saying he had contacted the soldier’s division chief to investigate.
The military attorney’s office did not respond to questions from Reuters. But the Injured Veterans Compensation Act says that a properly filed claim must be answered within 15 days.
The soldier said he still had problems with his leg and had submitted a request to his unit commanders to withdraw from military service.
They asked me: Will you come back? I said no,” he recounted.
“Evil gamer. Amateur music trailblazer. Alcohol geek. Problem solver. Coffee advocate. Troublemaker. Infuriatingly humble zombieaholic.”