Russia — While the Russia-Ukraine conflict looks to be coming to a standstill, Vladimir Putin appears to be making a choice to shift the scales in his favor.
Putin is likely to sign legislation to lessen military conscription in Russia, raising fears of a new round of mobilization.
In addition to traditional mail, the measure would allow for the distribution of military call-up paperwork through the internet.
It would also make eligible troops’ travel overseas prohibited.
The new rules
Russian officials have said that the step does not pave the way for a fresh round of mobilization.
According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, the action is solely intended to clean up the mess left by the controversial partial mobilization order issued in September.
The order was flawed, causing thousands of Russians to escape the nation.
The new restrictions, however, make it more difficult for Russian men to circumvent such an order if one is issued.
Several Russians have voiced concerns about the proposal.
Alexey, a 41-year-old Moscow lawyer, stated:
“Now it will be much easier to mobilize me, given how digitalized [SIC] life in Moscow has become.”
Despite the fact that they are not in the authorized mobilization region, Alexey does not expect the Kremlin to fulfill their recruiting requirements.
“I have no illusions with regard to the assurances of authorities, who insist these amendments were passed exclusively to improve the draft’s book-keeping and have nothing to do with the second mobilization wave.”
“I don’t believe a word of this,” he continued.
“I believe the mobilization has never ended. It has begun and continues to this day.”
“You can look at this development as preparation of the state to step up mobilization. To make it possible to notify and mobilize large numbers of conscripts in a short period of time.”
The new law demands that Russians be informed as soon as they get the summons, even if they have not been called up.
Russians would be barred from leaving the country after seven days.
Failure to attend for a military summons without a valid cause within 20 days results in the following penalties:
- Inability to register a vehicle and drive it
- Restriction from registering an apartment
- Inability to register as an individual entrepreneur or self-employment
- Blocked from getting loans
On Tuesday, the measure received its third reading in the Russian parliament’s lower house.
The Federation Council, the highest body, approved it on Wednesday.
Vladimir Putin is expected to sign the bill into law as the final formality.
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Distrust in the authorities
During a daily press conference, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was asked if the Kremlin was afraid that the bill’s passage might result in another mass exodus.
“Absolutely not,” responded Peskov. “It has nothing to do with mobilization, it has to do with military registration.”
However, the move may pave the way for a more seamless expansion of Moscow’s recruitment efforts.
“I have no trust in today’s authorities in Russia,” said Alexey. “I fear for my son even more than about my own life.”
Alexey’s kid has reached the age of military service, and he is not alone.
Olga, 48, is anxious about her 16-year-old son, who may be called up to fight in the future, jeopardizing his ability to continue his schooling.
“I feel very badly about this war,” said Olga. “And same goes for all other wars and any deaths by force, regardless of the cause.”
“I would prefer for wars to be fought only by professional military or volunteers.”
“Should (the war) drag on and intensify, and if there is a real second wave of mobilization, then I think some will try to leave (Russia), of course.”
The Russian Defense Ministry conscripts males into military duty twice a year, in the spring and fall.
Spring conscription in 2023 will apply to 147,000 residents aged 18 to 27 between April 1 and July 15, 2023, according to a government document.
For the time being, conscription documents must be handed in person by a local military recruiting office or an employer in Russia.
The proposed legislation would allow electronic summons in the same way that the present system does.
Regardless of whether or not it was read, it will be posted on the Gosuslugi government webpage.
Mass mobilization rumors
Dmitry Peskov dismissed the accusations when asked whether another mass mobilization attempt was planned.
“There is no second wave,” he said.
He repeated on Wednesday that the modification was made to make the procedure more efficient and comfortable for individuals.
The unprecedented acknowledgment of failure follows botched attempts in September, which resulted in turmoil, with many Russians fleeing across the border to escape being called up.
Protests took place in ethnic minority neighborhoods as well, with some military enrollment offices being set ablaze.
The original declaration sparked massive anti-war protests across the country.
The objective of 300,000 personnel was fulfilled in late October, according to authorities, bringing the recruitment process to a halt.
While the Kremlin soon minimized the maneuver’s significance, its provisions and timing were fortunate for a force that had ground operations in eastern Ukraine halted after months of combat that had depleted personnel and ammunition.
Image source: NBC News
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