Desperate Putin lowering military access requirements in Russian pushback

According to the Institute for the Study of War the Kremlin has continued to lower eligibility requirements for their armed forces.

They wrote: “The Kremlin continues to lower eligibility requirements for Russian military service in an effort to increase its recruitment pool.

“Kremlin newswire TASS reported on June 20 that the Russian State Duma adopted the third and final reading of a law that would allow citizens with a criminal record and citizens deemed “partially fit” for military service to sign contracts with the Russian military during periods of wartime, mobilization or martial law.

“Head of the independent Russian human rights organization “Rus Sidyashchaya” (Russia Behind Bars) Olga Romanova claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has already recruited about 15,000 prisoners to serve in the Russian military since February 1, 2023.”

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This isn’t the first time Putin’s military recruitment strategies have come under the spotlight.

The Washington Post reported leaked US intelligence documents stating Russian military officials were attempting to quietly enlist 815,000 soldiers without alarming government officials concerned about labour shortages caused by the war. The Post added that Russia is reportedly suffering its worst workforce shortage in 20 years.

The ISW said: “Russian authorities continue significant recruitment efforts targeting Russia’s prison population.

“Russian prisoners are an attractive source of reinforcements because their heavily coerced recruitment draws limited public attention due to their lack of protections and minimal present contribution to the Russian economy.”

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They added: “The Ukrainian General Staff stated on April 27 that Russian authorities are targeting individuals with criminal records, particularly with terrorism charges, to replenish manpower losses.

“The Ukrainian General Staff also stated that Russian forces are training 500 convicts who chose contract service as an alternative to imprisonment at field camps in Starobilsk, Luhansk Oblast.

“Russian opposition news source Mobilization News published a statement in April from former prisoner Yuri Yakovlev, who claimed that the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) recruited him and other St. Petersburg IK-4 prison colony members on February 20 and sent them to the war zone in Donetsk Oblast on February 21 with no professional support, quality equipment, or clear contract conditions.

“A regional branch of Radio Liberty noted that Russian authorities recruited over 100 IK-4 prisoners to fight in Ukraine.”

Putin’s change in recruitment strategy comes as Ukraine tries to push back Russian offences in its highly anticipated counter-offensive.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky has admitted the counter-offensive has been “slower than desired” as his troops fight to regain ground.

The president said his army would advance as it deemed best: “Some people believe this is a Hollywood movie and expect results now. It’s not. What is at stake is people’s lives.

“Whatever some might want, including attempts to pressure us, with all due respect, we will advance on the battlefield the way we deem best.”

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