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Russia-Ukraine update: Moscow sent workers into occupied territory, but never paid them

Russian contractors tasked with rebuilding were promised double their home wages. They now feel deceived

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Workers clear debris next to a crater caused by a rocket strike on a house in Kramatorsk, Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 12, 2022. There were no injuries reported in the strike.

David Goldman, Associated Press

Moscow has been importing labor into occupied regions of Ukraine. Some contractors have not been paid, though they were promised significant financial compensation.

Driving the news: Employees of Russian water services company Mosvodokanal were sent to work in the Luhansk province of Ukraine. They sent a video to the news organization Ura.ru claiming they worked without an employment contract and were not paid.

  • Petro Andryushchenko, a mayoral adviser in Mariupol, wrote in a telegram post that workers were brought in from St. Petersburg and promised double their current salaries. The post suggests they were working without contracts and did not get paid. This could not be independently verified, however.
  • According to the Institute for the Study of War, this indicates “occupation authorities are struggling to persuade or forcibly coerce meaningful numbers of Ukrainian residents to work on reconstruction projects”
  • Idel.Realii, a nonprofit media organization, reports many Russian military volunteers were not paid what was promised. According to UPI, Moscow has failed to provide funeral arrangements for volunteer soldiers killed in combat.

What to watch: According to the institute, importing Russian citizens may fit into a wider plan by Moscow to displace Ukrainian populations in areas of occupation. They note, however, that “Russian-backed occupation administrations are likely facing internal fragmentation over occupation agendas.”