When it’s more profitable to die than to be alive: Here’s Putin’s ‘economy of death’ | War in Ukraine

Many Russians go to war for financial reasons. For them, fighting for Putin or even dying for him is more profitable than being alive. It’s a system that Russian economist Vladislav Inozemtsev has called “the economy of death.” Here’s how it works.

Vladislav Inosemtsev published his article on “Riddle”, a Russian-English site. A former Moscow University professor paints a cynical picture of Russian power. Putin has launched a vast “economic plan” for Russia’s poorest regions. This is where most of the men visiting Ukraine come from.

In poorer Russian regions, the average salary is a few hundred euros per month and the choice to join the army is made quickly. “People who need money voluntarily go to war,” says Inosemtsev. “Most of the fighters come from ten low-income regions.”

A more profitable mission if the soldier dies

Those who volunteer to fight in Ukraine receive from 200,000 to 600,000 rubles, depending on the region. This equates to around 1,900 to 5,700 euros per month. So each soldier gets a monthly salary of at least 2,000 euros. This is three times higher than the average Russian salary. Those who survive six months at the front go home with almost 18,000 euros in their pockets. For the same amount, residents of Yakutia and Buryatia, with an average monthly income of 400 euros, have to work for almost four years.

If the soldier dies, the mission becomes more lucrative, at least for his loved ones. In fact, Mr. A “one-time presidential death grant” introduced by Putin will be paid to relatives. The compensation is five million rubles, which is equivalent to just over 50,000 euros.

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The Ministry of Defense provides another compensation in case of soldier’s death on the battlefield. From January 1, 2023, this compensation is equal to 4.7 million rubles or 47,000 euros. Finally, regional authorities pay an additional million rubles or less than 10,000 euros.


So, for the next of kin of a soldier who died fighting for six months, the total payments are about 14.8 million rubles, or about 155,000 euros. In the poorer regions of Russia, accumulating such a sum would require more than 30 years of labor. “Many Russians see these sums and are ready to risk their lives in front of them,” Inosemtsev said.

This is how relatively large sums of money flow from the coffers of the Russian state to the poorest regions. It remains to be seen how exactly the promised amount will be paid and how long this will last. In fact, this whole system has big consequences. Not only to the treasury of the Russian state, but also to the army. “The entire Russian army has become mercenary. No one fights for his country or faith. Everyone is fighting for money. Under these conditions, it is difficult to build a powerful army,” said Mr. Inosemtsev concludes.

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