Now Putin's Sending in the Clowns (and Musicians)

Russia to send musicians, circus performers to boost troops' morale during Ukraine invasion
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2022 9:10 AM CST
Now Putin's Sending in the Clowns (and Musicians)
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Nikolaev)

Russian troops' morale as the invasion of Ukraine nears its 11th month hasn't been great, and the coming winter isn't likely to help. Russian military strategists, however, think they've hit upon a solution: singers, musicians, and circus performers. The BBC reports that the country's Defense Ministry on Sunday announced the formation of a pair of "frontline creative brigades," made of such performers who'll be dispatched to the war's front lines to raise soldiers' spirits.

The Evening Standard notes that this sort of entertainment tactic dates back at least to World War II, when Russia's Red Army deployed thousands of such "creative brigades" to distract troops from their war woes. The current creative brigades—instructed to maintain "a high moral, political, and psychological state [among] the participants of the special military operation," the Defense Ministry notes, quoted by Russian media outlet RBC—will be made up of troops that came on board during President Vladimir Putin's recruitment drive, as well as "professional artists who voluntarily entered military service," per the BBC.

The UK's Defense Ministry, however, isn't so sure that singing and ball-juggling will pick Russian troops up out of the dumps. In a Sunday intel update, the agency noted that "fragile morale almost certainly continues to be a significant vulnerability across much of the Russian force." It added that soldiers remain worried about "very high casualty rates, poor leadership, pay problems, lack of equipment and ammunition, and lack of clarity about the war's objectives," and that "the creative brigades' efforts are unlikely to substantially alleviate these concerns." (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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