Andrey Kartapolov (General-Ret), chairman of the Duma Defense Committee.
“The information space is filled with aggressive advertising of the services of commercial structures to evade military duty…”
The Kremlin continues to struggle to attract adequate military manpower to participate in its so-called special military operation (SMO) in Ukraine. The partial mobilization of 300,000 soldiers announced in September 2022 helped to stabilize Russian lines but so far has been insufficient to launch a counteroffensive or consolidate control of the four recently annexed provinces.[i] Similarly, Russian private military companies (PMCs) like the Wagner Group and other local militias have also proven inadequate to consolidate gains. The Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense (MoD) increasingly may be forced to rely upon conscript soldiers to fill Russia’s manpower needs.
Russia is considering a proposal to change the age for draft-eligible Russians. In December 2022, the MoD announced that the age for draft-eligible Russian men would be changed from 18-27 to 21-30 years of age, which would supposedly provide for more mature and experienced conscripts. However, according to the first excerpt from the pro-business site Vedomosti, “the transition to a new draft age in 2023 is unlikely.” There is simply insufficient time for local draft boards to prepare and carry out this change. However, the article quotes another expert who claims that the “law on raising the draft age could come into force in the fall of 2023.” At first, the draft will be of a mixed type, that is, men aged 18 to 30 will be subject to it.” Expanding the age limits from 18-30 for military manpower could help the MoD to fill the military’s ranks. The Kremlin is also cracking down on ways to evade military service. To avoid the draft, many young Russian men employ the services of various legal agencies to find legal or medical reasons to remain out of the military.[ii] Not surprisingly, as the second excerpt from the pro-business site Kommersant describes, legislation has been proposed that would “ban advertising of legal and consulting companies that provide services to conscripts.” The article quotes a Russian legislator who asserts that “the information space is filled with aggressive advertising of the services of commercial structures to evade military duty.” According to the Kremlin’s narrative, military duty is a sacred honor, and as the SMO continues, more young Russian men will be forced to carry out this obligation if the conscript age eligibility is expanded and legal recourse for potential conscripts is curtailed.
Anna Vergazova, “В Госдуме оценили сроки перехода к новому призывному возрасту (The State Duma estimated the timing of the transition to a new draft age),” Vedomosti (Russian pro-business news outlet), 3 March 2023. https://www.vedomosti.ru/politics/articles/2023/03/03/965182-perehoda-novomu-prizivnomu-vozrastu
The transition to a new draft age in 2023 is unlikely, Yury Shvytkin, deputy head of the State Duma Defense Committee, told Vedomosti…. Viktor Bondarev, Chairman of the Defense Committee of the Federation Council, said on March 3 that the draft law on raising the draft age could come into force in the fall of 2023. He added that the introduction of the document is planned in the spring, and suggested that in this case it would come into force by the beginning of the autumn draft…
…A proposal to gradually increase the draft age was made by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on December 21, 2022 at an expanded meeting of the collegium of the Russian Ministry of Defense. According to his proposal, the draft age can be increased from 18 to 21 years, and the maximum – from 27 to 30 years. In addition, Shoigu called for an increase in the number of military personnel to 1.5 million people.
Earlier, Andrey Kartapolov, chairman of the Duma Defense Committee , told Parliamentary Gazeta that from April 1, conscription could take place according to the new rules. At first, the draft will be of a mixed type, that is, men aged 18 to 30 will be subject to it.
Bulat Bashirov, “Призывников оградят от юристов (Conscripts to be shielded from lawyers),” Kommersant (Russian pro-business news outlet), 7 February 2023. https://www.kommersant.ru/doc/5811945
…Deputies of the Parliament of Bashkiria took the initiative to ban advertising of legal and consulting companies that provide services to conscripts. The legislators propose to amend the federal legislation accordingly, since “aggressive advertising of services for evading military duty” provokes citizens to commit acts punishable in criminal and administrative order….“The information space is filled with aggressive advertising of the services of commercial structures to evade military duty,” the explanatory note to the document says…. “Advertising ways to avoid conscription is widespread: cars with similar banners are literally parked near recruiting stations,” Vladimir Nagorny, head of the Bashkirian Kurultai Committee on State Construction, told Kommersant. “Their services are to find, they believe, a legal way to avoid conscription. The first way can be characterized as abuse of the right. On the advice of such lawyers, the recruit will appeal the decision of the draft commission in court, and even if he loses, by that time the draft campaign will already be over. The second method is friendly independent medical commissions, which find a disease in the conscript that exempts him from service. Lawyers do not hesitate to talk about this method.”
[i]Russia annexed the four Ukrainian regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia in 2022, although the Kremlin does not fully control them.
[ii] For additional information regarding how young Russian men avoid being conscripted see: Ray Finch, “Dodging the Draft” OE Watch, December 2020. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/377105
Image: Andrey Kartapolov (General-Ret), chairman of the Duma Defense Committee
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