Vladimir Putin is planning to change Russia’s laws on military conscription in a bid to be able to force more young men in his country to fight the war on Ukraine. The Russian leader is looking into changing the current age requirement for conscripts from 18-27 to 21-30 in order to force more men in higher education to serve for the country, the UK Minostry of Defence says.
In its latest update, the MoD said: “The Russian authorities are likely preparing to facilitate wider military conscription to resource its military requirements.
“On 13 March 2023, Russian Duma deputies introduced a bill to change the age bracket for conscription to men aged 21-30 years, from the current 18-27. The law is likely to be passed, and would come into force in January 2024.
“Russia has continued to run conscription call-up cycles twice a year since Soviet times. They are distinct from the exceptional ‘partial mobilisation’ of veterans carried out since September 2022.
“Russia continues to officially bar conscripts from operations in Ukraine, though at least hundreds have probably served through administrative mix ups or after being coerced to sign contracts.
“Many 18-21 year old men currently claim exemption from the draft due to being in higher education. The authorities are highly likely changing the age bracket to bolster troop numbers by ensuring that students are eventually forced to serve.
“Even if Russia continues to refrain from deploying conscripts in the war, extra conscripts will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight.”
Russian authorities declared the partial mobilisation for the war on Ukraine completed in late October.
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However, some Russian lawyers and rights groups pointed out Putin’s decree, saying it remained in effect until the president issues another decree, formally ending the mobilisation and invalidating the previous document.
Reporters have asked Putin whether he would do so, and the Russian leader promised to “consult with the lawyers.”
The Kremlin later acknowledged the decree still stood but said call-up efforts have ceased.
On Thursday, a court in Russia affirmed the right of a man mobilised to fight in Ukraine to perform an alternative form of civil service due to his stated religious beliefs, setting a precedent that could persuade more reluctant draftees to try to get out of military service.
The Leningrad Regional Court upheld a ruling of a lower court that deemed the drafting of Pavel Mushumansky unlawful and said he was entitled to fullfill his duty in another way, Mushumansky’s lawyer, Alexander Peredruk, said.
Putin ordered a call-up of army reservists in September. Although officials said 300,000 men were drafted as planned, the mobilisation also spurred resistance.
Tens of thousands of men fled the country, and some of those who stayed ignored their summons.
Others contested enlistment in the courts, including by claiming a right to alternative service, which entails taking up a paying job at state-run institutions or organisations.
Those opting for alternative service often work in hospitals, care homes or post offices.