This is a bit superseded by the recent partial mobilization in Russia, but I am still a bit confused by Russian federal subjects (regions) being asked to fund recruitment.
Stepanenko says the process is being driven from Moscow. “The Kremlin reportedly ordered all 85 Russian federal subjects (regions of the Russian Federation plus occupied Crimea and Sevastopol) to recruit volunteer battalions to avoid declaring partial or full mobilization in Russia.”
But the regions are expected to help fund the recruitment, which she says “places a heavy strain on regional budgets.” Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, for example, had to set aside about $2 million for the project, Stepanenko said.
ISW has also frequently talked about local regions offering widely differing bonuses and pay rates.
However, to get to my question, we know 2 things about Russia's current economic situation: it's not great in general, but it does very well from the oil price. So, aside from oil, I'd expect the cupboards to be looking a bit bare.
I assume that oil money goes to Russian federal coffers, rather than regional ones. And, even if it doesn't, it would go to the regions that have oil, leaving the other ones without much benefit from current oil prices.
How has the Kremlin justified its funding model for recruitments and equipment? Why doesn't it just get paid out of Federal budget, where there is that oil surplus?
This would allow a more equal level of personal equipment being issued and pay rates to volunteers.
For comparison US National Guards are funded out of the US Federal budget.
And even though the mobilization is changing things a bit, there are still reports of different level of equipment provisioning being made available to the troops, depending on the region.
Switching to a mobilization may not have fixed all of this either:
Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin decreed on October 3 that all Russian administrative districts, including federal subjects and local governments, are authorized to use their local budgets to purchase military and dual-use equipment on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Defense. That equipment includes drones, night vision and thermal imaging devices, communications devices, vehicles, uniforms, camping equipment, medicines, food, and hygiene products. Mishustin decreed that local governments can purchase only the equipment asked for by the MoD or other authorized bodies, including local military commissariats, and must transfer that equipment to the federal government free of charge. The Ukrainian General Staff reported on October 4 that the Kazan Higher Tank Command School is funding the formation of three motorized rifle and two artillery regiments for newly mobilized forces. The burden of supporting the war effort is also falling on individual men and their communities—a Russian milblogger reported that a community in Krasnodar raised 19 million rubles to purchase basic equipment like sleeping bags and body armor for mobilized men in their community and to support the families of those mobilized men while their men are away.
The Ministry of Defense is demonstrably not providing even basic military equipment to mobilized personnel. It appears to be leaving wealthy oblasts to fill that gap, while mobilized men from poorer oblasts may be going without non-crowdsourced equipment entirely.
Though crowdfunding has long played a role in warfare, it has traditionally been limited to providing soldiers with non-essentials, according to Ben Hodges, a former general who led U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But Russia’s crowdfunding efforts reach way beyond 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,” another crowdfunding group — We Don’t Give Up On Our Own – Help our Soldiers — posted last week on their VKontakte page.
In broad terms I am asking why regions are being asked to fund the war and how that is justified by Putin's government when it sits on the cash reserves. Even now.
Edit: this seems like a relevant addition to the context.
(roughy 100 rubles - $1)
Total additional oil and gas tax revenues are seen at 1.28 trillion roubles next year, 1.13 trillion roubles in 2024 and 1.19 trillion roubles in 2025. Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said last week Russia's budget deficit would come in at 2% of gross domestic product in 2023 before narrowing to 0.7% in 2025.