35 Comments

And of course, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Which is to say that it is likely that if Russia were to make a similar offer to Ukrainian solders, very few of whom are willingly in uniform, and many of whom are from eastern, Russian-speaking, parts of Ukraine, they might lose more soldiers than the Russians, who also have a much larger pool to draw from. And as I understand it, the vast majority of the Russian solders are volunteers (with a big signing bonus, but still...), whereas in Ukraine they are capturing men as they try to flee across the borders into their European neighbors to avoid military service, and sending them to the front.

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That makes an interesting point about bidding for soldiers. It would be an interesting signal of the legitimacy and support each government enjoys among their soldiers to see how mutual incentives to defect tipped the odds. Ideally some third party (not sure who would count at this point) would facilitate the payments and movement/settlements, offering each side’s soldiers the same money and citizenship deals to the relevant countries. I’d be super curious to see the results of that!

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Why isn't Russia doing this, then?

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They might be. It certainly would not be published in the West if they were. And of course, it could be very risky for a Ukrainian soldier to attempt to defect. His own mates might well kill him if they caught him trying to leave.

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Why would it not be published in the west? Other Pro-Russian news is easy to find.

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I don't know if Russia is offering any incentives or not, nor do I have any idea what may have motivated them to choose to or not. I do know that, while pro-Russia news is available in the West, it tends to be items you have to go look for. It doesn't appear in the major media. In any case, I simply posted my original post to indicate that this could be used by both sides.

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I agree that the arguments being offered are terrible.

Bribes for desertion is currently offered for Russians but isn't really working. Either because they believe in the cause or they find the prospect of desertion too risky. There was a recent high profile case where a Russian helicopter pilot defected for a large payout. Since he two co-pilots were unwilling to defect they were killed. His family disowned him, and Russian agents tracked him down in Spain and murdered him.

But let me make an alternate proposal. We should pay Ukranian soldiers to desert. Unlike Russian soldiers, who maintain a high % of volunteers, the Ukranian army is almost entirely conscripts many abducted against their will. The current fee to get a false medical exemption is $5k, but many can't afford it. While we can't guarantee the safety of Russian defectors and their families, we could easily guarantee the safety of Ukranian defectors and their families. Giving them EU passports is obviously well within out power, and most would jump at the chance. The Ukranian government, unlike the Russian government, could be forced to give people freedom of choice on the matter.

It is likely that we could cause enough Ukranian soldiers to defect for their armed resistance to collapse, which would end the war. Further, it would discredit the war (and most American foreign policy). If the Ukranian's really are slave soldiers who would jump at the chance to escape to the EU given the choice then the existence of Ukraine as a country we should be defending is discredited.

Maybe I'm wrong and they will all refuse, but any libertarian ought to support at least trying. At a minimum succeed or fail we would get a window into the revealed preferences of Ukrainian soldiers, which seems important for determining how to conduct the war.

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Of course, everything revolves around America.

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Of course it does, that war would have been long over if not for America. The entire war is just another proxy war which America loves to engage in.

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Perhaps we should invite Russia to the Sudetenland as well, while we are at it?

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Anyone who consistently jumps to WW2 for historical analogy can be dismissed as either a moron or dishonest. Saddam was Hitler, Assad is Hitler, rinse and repeat.

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Putin ain't Hitler.

Handing over the Sudetenland iat just the most well known example of appeasement just being followed by more war down the line.

What do you want to hand over next? Poland, Estonia, Finland?

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Many wars have resulted in the transferring of territory without further conquest. We didn't march on Mexico City after the end of the Mexican American war. Why is it always Munich?

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"...bribing Russians soldiers, at least in some cases, isn’t rewarding wrongdoing, but rather giving people doing wrong under threat an option to escape from under that threat, thereby removing (or weakening) their incentive to do wrong. Not to mention, those at the top who are in fact wrongdoers—who choose to do wrong of their own accord—would be disincentivized by an effective desertion scheme from starting another war if they knew their soldiers would be bribed away from wagging war,"

Do you work for the propaganda dept. of NATO? Or do you play the wardrums in Antony Blinken's rock band? "those at the top are in fact wrongdoers" alright; & most of them are on 'our' side. There was no need of this war in the first place, or of it's continuation; there have been many spurned diplomatic opportunities. But if you think it's such a great 'moral' cause to crush Russia, go join the fight yourself - Ukraine is desperate for volunteers to sacrifice themselves for NATO & their puppet dictator Zelensky.

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I do work for the NATO propaganda department. I didn't realize it was so obvious. That being said, could you keep the Zelenaky puppet stuff quiet?

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Bryan is right in never reading the comments, but perhaps Jimmy Licon will. The arguments he opposes are indeed terrible. The better one is that the whole premise rests on uncritically accepting ghost-of-kiev-tier narratives about Russia, Russians, and their morale.

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Perhaps that's the case, I am not an expert -- or anywhere close -- on things Russia. That said, it is more interesting of a proposal to me as someone who would love to make war obsolete; if that means bribing soldiers, then great!

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I love the idea of paying for desertion. I 100% support killing fewer people, plus military victory is largely a question of which side spends the most $ already.

I don’t think it will work because

1. Russian Soldiers would have to figure out how to safely leave their assigned unit, escape the country, and prove their defector status to EU authorities.

2. Surrendering to Ukrainian Soldiers is risky because they might just kill Russian defectors out of hatred, distrust, and jealousy.

3. The whole plan might “backfire” as Ukrainian Soldiers find it safer and more profitable to pretend to be Russian defectors rather than fight against the Russian Soldiers.

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In any case we should still try paying for desertion because it seems way better to pay people not to kill each other rather paying them to kill.

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My main argument against it was the cobra effect.

Many non fighters can "desert".

More Russians may want to fight, if you improve the outcome of one aspect of be a fighter.

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I get that's a potential risk/cost, obviously. But you haven't *yet* made a successful argument against the program. It could be -- though I do not know the odds -- that such a program would attract fake deserters, but it still be a deal (morally, financially) to fund desertion compared to funding a full-on war. It is hard to settle the question from our laptops, but it isn't a successful argument against the proposal without at least those numbers.

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War or not, it's hard for me to see how it's a good idea to try to pay 500 billion USD to incentivize 5 million Russian young men emigrate to the EU. Beside the cost being potentially the same order of magnitude as for the war itself, that male surplus would create all sorts of issues.

Also, we already have an easy and relatively cheap way to win the war: Just enter directly into it with NATO assets. Russia doesn't stand a chance and we wouldn't lose many troops. Will Russia nuke us? Ok, well, but if the desertion idea works well, then I guess they will nuke us for that too, or?

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"Also, we already have an easy and relatively cheap way to win the war: Just enter directly into it with NATO assets. Russia doesn't stand a chance and we wouldn't lose many troops."

This is pure delusion. NATO hasn't fought against anything approaching a near peer adversary since Korea.

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"This is pure delusion. NATO hasn't fought against anything approaching a near peer adversary since Korea."

To my mind we're seeing that Russia isn't really a peer adversary and furthermore that it has overextended itself. I might be wrong, but it seems to me that NATO could establish air dominance, introduce AWACS and start bombing Russian assets and military infrastructure with aviation. That would heavily tip the scale in favor of Ukraine.

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"I might be wrong," You are. You have no basis to think the US could easily establish air dominance. US planes require perfectly manicured airfields to take off. All Russia has to do is create a few potholes and the bulk of the US air power is grounded. That's why we'll never see a single F-16 take off from Ukraine. And Ukraine has our air defense technology and still can't stop Russia from hitting their air fields.

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"All Russia has to do is create a few potholes and the bulk of the US air power is grounded."

Considering this comment, I'm pretty confident my military assessments are better than yours. Russia is very welcome to waste expensive and rare missiles on making holes in a few runways. Those are easy and quick to mend, and plentiful. Also the US excels at logistics and F35 and e.g. B2 ranges are pretty good. From the centre of Romania to the centre of Crimea is just 715 km. The US also has refueling planes.

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That's fine and dandy. Still nearly impossible to asses work actual numbers.

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