Russia is experiencing a severe labour shortage.
But contradictory policies are worsening the situation, a think tank said.
Russia is deterring potential workers by trying to send them to fight in Ukraine.
Russia is wrestling with a labor crisis — but making it even worse by sending highly-skilled workers to war, a think tank said.
The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington, DC-based think tank, said Russia is failing to tackle its severe workforce shortage because of "inconsistent and contradictory" Kremlin policies
These policies "seek to achieve mutually exclusive objectives of reducing negative shocks to Russia's domestic labor force, while disincentivizing migrants from working in Russia and enticing Russians to return from abroad while not providing them opportunities to work and trying to recruit them into a war they fled," The ISW said.
Around 900,000 Russians have left the country in the wake of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, according to independent policy group Re:Russia. Many of them feared being drafted into the military to fight in Ukraine.
At the same time migrants to Russia, many from Central Asian countries, are being pressured to sign contracts to fight with the Russian military in Ukraine, rights activists told RFE/RL.
The Russian economy has struggled in the wake of the invasion, with the European Council in August saying it would likely continue to shrink as international sanctions and workforce problems bite.
Last week Russian State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said that Russians who fled were returning because they'd been unable to find work abroad, but that "no one here is waiting for them with open arms," adding that "they have committed treason against Russia, their homeland, and their loved ones."
The ISW noted that a prominent member of the Russian military blogger community, who has long been critical of the Kremlin's policies, said that the number of Russians returning to the country was "catastrophically small."
Russia has experienced steep casualty rates in Ukraine, with reports saying that it's lost around 300,000 soldiers.
In October 2022, Russia drafted 200,000 civilians into the military to bolster its forces in Ukraine, with reports saying that many were provided with minimal training, shoddy equipment, and placed in highly dangerous front-line positions.
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