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Russian lawmaker introduces bill pushing back conscription age

conscript
Russian conscripts called up for military service during the annual autumn draft smoke at a gathering point before their departure for garrisons, in Omsk

A senior Russian lawmaker on Monday introduced a bill to push back the age of conscription to compulsory military service to 21-30 years from the current 18-27 years.

The bill was introduced by Andrei Kartapolov, a former general who chairs the State Duma’s defence committee and represents the ruling United Russia bloc, just over a year into Moscow’s military campaign in Ukraine.

Because there are two transition years – 2024 and 2025 – when the conscription age will span 10 or 11 years instead of the usual nine, the bill would for a time increase the number of men subject to a year’s compulsory service.

President Vladimir Putin gave his backing in December to Defence Ministry proposals to push back the age range.

The minister, Sergei Shoigu, plans to increase the total number of serving combat personnel – professional contract soldiers and conscripts – to 1.5 million from 1.15 million.

Conscripts cannot legally be deployed outside Russia. However, in September Moscow unilaterally annexed four Ukrainian regions where fighting is continuing, and now considers them Russian territory.

A surprise mobilisation of at least 300,000 men last autumn for the war in Ukraine prompted a mass exodus of draft-age men from Russia, and also triggered public criticism over the seemingly chaotic way in which men were being called up.

Although Russia’s campaign in Ukraine appears to have stalled, the Kremlin has repeatedly denied planning any further mobilisation.

Deferrals from military service are available on medical grounds, for university students, and for fathers of large families.

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