Sputnik/Alexander Astafyev/Pool via Reuters
- Russia’s parliament is nearing the passage of a new measure ahead of a Ukrainian counteroffensive.
- The measure would ban people who have been drafted from leaving the country, and track summons.
- Ukraine is also seeking to recruit new fighters as the battle for Bakhmut has intensified.
Russia’s parliament is close to passing a series of measures aimed at making it harder for citizens to dodge future drafts as Putin seeks battlefield reinforcements.
According to The New York Times, Russia’s state Duma has passed a measure which bans those who have been drafted to the military from leaving the country, imposing electronic draft summons and other measures.
The measures are currently before Russia’s upper parliament. They will likely be sent to President Vladimir Putin’s desk for a signature ahead of an expected Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Russia announced a “partial mobilization” of troops in September, and the new measures expected to be passed in Russia would open the way for a spring draft.
According to the Times, the draft law means that as soon as a draft summons arrives in a recipient’s inbox on a widely-used government services website, it would count as officially received — even if the recipient has not independently registered for the site, or the summons is not opened.
Previously, a paper system meant that defense officials had to track down draftees, and punishments for avoiding a summons included a suspended driver’s license, or bans on real estate or loans, per the report.
The September mobilization proved to be a chaotic venture for the Kremlin, as Putin promised that 300,000 reservists with combat experience would join the war, but reports emerged that many untrained fighters were sent to battle instead.
In Ukraine, the army is also trying to recruit more manpower amid heavy casualties sustained in the ongoing battle with Russia in eastern Bakhmut. In March, US Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the battle in Bakhmut a “slaughter-fest” for Russian forces, claiming that tens of thousands of Russian soldiers have died there so far.
Leaked US intelligence documents last week helped paint a more vivid picture of the catastrophic death toll for both parties in the war. One document suggested that Russia has suffered up to 223,000 casualties and another suggested that Ukraine has lost up to 131,000 casualties.
Experts have cautioned amid the leak that some of the genuine documents may have been altered to either lower the Russian death toll or overstate Ukraine’s death toll for propaganda reasons.
So far, Ukraine’s recruitment in the war has largely relied on volunteers, but as a new counteroffensive nears, draft rules could also tighten there.
At the outset of the war, Ukrainian imposed martial law, banning men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving the country in case they’re needed for a draft. The country also instituted mobilization rules which make that same pool of men eligible to be drafted on a whim.