Russia raises highest age for conscripts to 30 in bid to replenish forces

Desperate Vladimir Putin has announced Russia is raising the maximum age at which men can be conscripted from 27 to 30.

With more than 100,000 “cannon fodder” Russian casualties so far, the Kremlin chief wants more young men pressed into service as a priority.

The order was immediately passed by the lower house of Russia’s parliament and now depends only on the upper house’s approval before it can be enacted.

It follows two new fast-tracked laws to allow teenage schoolboys to sign up – with chilling echoes of the Hitler Youth during the Second World War – while pushing up the maximum age Russian ­reservists can remain in service to 56.

Last autumn, the government announced a mobilisation of 300,000 reservists, but as a result, tens of thousands of Russian men left their country.

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The Kremlin has denied that its recent law ­affecting 18 and 19-year-olds was a bid to stop widespread draft-dodging.

Moscow’s ongoing struggles on the battlefield – in a war Putin’s inner circle thought would be over in a number of days – are behind the latest move.

Russia remains keen to boost troop numbers to defend territory gained in its invasion of Ukraine.

It is known to have sustained heavy casualties in nearly a year-and-a-half of fighting, but the defence ministry is reluctant to release figures.

The State Duma passed the conscription bill in its second and third readings this week. Once signed, it is due to come into force on January 1 next year. All men of conscription age are expected to serve a year of compulsory military service.

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The defence ministry’s original proposal was simply to change the conscription age range from 18-27 to 21-30. Now the lower limit will remain at 18.

Andrei Kartapolov, head of the Duma’s defence affairs committee, said: “The wording of the draft law changed because the demographic situation is serious and affects the volume of the mobilisation resource.”

He added that “many lads want to go and serve at 18”.

The draft law also bans men from leaving the country from the day of their call-up.

Papers can now be issued online instead of in person – and men who fail to report for conscription can now be fined up to 30,000 roubles (£258), a tenfold rise from just 3,000 (£26).

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