Russia tries to boost its flagging army by changing conscription age range
The Kremlin wants to shift the age of army conscripts to boost the number of combat personnel under its command to 1.5 million.
The age bracket for conscription will be moved from 17-27 to 21-30 in order to close a loophole used by students to avoid conscription, according to the British Ministry of Defence (MoD).
“Many 18 to 21-year-old men currently claim exemption from the draft due to being in higher education,” it said.
The Russian parliament introduced a Bill covering these changes earlier this week. The MoD said it was “likely to be passed” by the start of next year.
Under current Russian law, conscripts are banned from being deployed overseas. However, by illegally annexing Crimea in 2014 - along with Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia last September - Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, can claim that they are defending Russia.
Bid to expand army
Russia’s ministry of defence has said it wants to increase the size of combat personnel under its command from 1.15 million to 1.5 million.
Putin was forced to order the first mobilisation in Russia since the Second World War in September to shore up his front line, which was in danger of collapse. Many of the 325,000 men called up were sent straight to fight in Ukraine without decent equipment or training.
Conscription is carried out twice a year in Russia, recruiting around 125,000 men for 12 months through each draft. But it is treated as a duty and a sort of finishing school. Conscripts are there to serve but not to be thrown into battle.
Even if conscripts are not sent to fight in Ukraine, the MoD said that expanding conscription would still help the Russian war effort in Ukraine.
“Extra conscripts will free up a greater proportion of professional soldiers to fight,” it said.
Reports from inside Russia have said that a low-level mobilisation is ongoing for the army, especially in regional cities.
The Kremlin’s Wagner mercenary group has also switched to openly recruiting in 42 cities across Russia.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner chief, said that he hoped to recruit an extra 30,000 fighters by May.