While opening a meeting of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Board, President Putin claimed that a reserve of troops sufficient for pursuing the “military operation” in Ukraine had been formed as a result of mobilization. Half of the mobilized are still receiving training. “150 thousand mobilized men are now undergoing training at training grounds. This is a strategic reserve for the special military operation in Ukraine,” he said. At the meeting the Russian Minister of Defense announced that 830 thousand people were exempted from being drafted into the army to serve in Ukraine, including workers in the defense industry and other industries critically important for the Russian economy.
Further on, Sergei Shoigu outlined key priorities for the year 2023: to continue the “special military operation” until its completion; to create the Moscow and the Leningrad military districts; to gradually raise the minimum draft age from 18 to 21 years while extending the upper age limit to 30 years; to ensure the possibility for the citizens to join the military under contract or to be conscripted from the first day of joining the service; to raise the number of troops serving in the Russian army to 1.5 million, including 695,000 volunteer contract soldiers, 521,000 of whom should be recruited by the end of 2023, with allowance for replacements in the battered units and for creation of new military units. These measures can as well be caused by demographic challenges. It is mostly those who were born from 1995 to 2004 who are now being called up for military service. Birth rates collapsed dramatically in the middle of the 90-ies, reaching their lowest levels in 2000. If the reforms are rolled out next year, there will be just enough time to target men born in 1993-1995 who outnumber younger people that were born later.
In this regard, it should be noted that a change to the draft age range is unlikely to be introduced before the fall conscription campaign of 2022 ends. The draft age will remain unchanged unless amendments are adopted to the Federal Law “On Military Duty and Military Service.” No legislative framework has yet been built around this initiative. The Meduza media outlet spoke to a military lawyer from the coalition Call for Conscience about how these novelties might affect Russians who are subject to conscription.
“There will be no second wave of mobilization,” reaffirmed Valentina Matviyenko, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly. Sirena Telegram channel collected the most important of Matviyenko’s recent statements: discussions of an estimated end date of the “special operation” in Ukraine are inappropriate; remote work should not be banned for entire categories of professionals; there is no reason to panic, as far as the Russian economy is concerned.
The State Duma [lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia] passed in the third reading a law to pause legal proceedings against mobilized citizens. The mobilized will also be eligible for suspension of debt payments. At the same time, the law excludes child support payments and compensation of damage resulting from the death of a breadwinner from the scope of court decisions that can be suspended.
Russian State Duma delegate Boris Chernyshyov puts forward an initiative to associate battalions and regiments with Duma delegates. The initiative is called “Deputy of the Regiment.”
The Angarsk mayor’s son expressed a desire to go to the front in order to “wash some shit off.” The “shit” Aleksandr Petrov is referring to is, apparently, his own T-shirt depicting a Ukrainian flag, which he wore at a ski resort in Baikalsk. His father, the mayor of Angarsk Sergei Petrov, had to apologize. Petrov the junior then tossed the T-shirt into the garbage and said that he always supported Putin.
The Ministry of Defense of Belarus showed footage of Russian and Belarussian servicemen together practicing urban combat. Soldiers from both armies also took part in exercises where they drove military vehicles through a forest. The Russian Ministry of Defense also published footage of unit cohesion training taking place in Belarus. Meanwhile in Dagestan, recently mobilized snipers underwent training at one of the training grounds belonging to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Draftees from Perm continue to leave for the combat zone from a training center in Yelan. Earlier, a regiment formed of mobilized soldiers from Perm was dispatched to the front from the Yelan training center along with two battalions trained in Tyumen. Another group of draftees will head out in the near future. Draftees from Kuzbass and the Saratov region have also been sent to the war.
Moscow region draftees were transferred to the combat zone in the so-called LPR where they found themselves without means of communication, personal items, and supply lines. When asked of the soldiers’ whereabouts by relatives, their command claims that the draftees are participating in military exercises in the Belgorod region.
Aleksey Kandakov, 43, a draftee from Kamensk-Uralsky was killed on Nov. 16 in the Luhansk region. Vladimir Degyarenko, 47, drafted at the end of September in the town of Berdsk in the Novosibirsk region, was also killed in the war. Two more draftees have died in Yelan. According to the Perm 36.6 Telegram channel’s sources, the first one went on leave Friday night and was hit by a truck. According to some of the sources, he was intoxicated. The second one got drunk then fell asleep in the street and froze to death. His lifeless body was found Saturday morning.
In St. Petersburg, new draft notices are being sent out. In the Novgorod region, a young man was drafted in spite of being blind in one eye. A Moscow region resident, meanwhile, complained to local police that he was not being drafted. A 48-year-old former city council delegate with a criminal record asked police to conduct an investigation into why the draft office was ignoring him and not sending him to participate in the “special military operation.”
At a collection point in Krasnodar, the authorities are detaining several men suffering from medical conditions that would deem them ineligible for military service. One of them fell ill but he is being refused a hospitalization. At a Moscow draft office, a conscript was taken into the army in handcuffs. The human rights organization Memorial reports that multifunctional government service centers are helping draft offices conscript men and describes two cases of such cooperation. In one instance, a man went to a Moscow multifunctional center to replace a lost passport but some employee there “placed a call” and the next thing the man knew, policemen showed up to take him to a draft office.
Two-thirds of the volunteered soldiers from the Vladimir region who were killed in the war in Ukraine turned out to be debtors. According to the Federal Bailiffs Service, 10 of 15 KIAs had debts totaling more than 5.7 million rubles. A mobilized soldier from the Irkutsk region has been trying to receive the payment of 195 thousand rubles promised by Putin for three months.
In the administration building of the Zabaykalsky region, there is an ad requesting residents to urgently hand over tin cans. Volunteers will use them to make trench candles. Schoolchildren in the Kushchyovsky district, Krasnodar region, are involved in weaving camouflage netting. Elderly women from a senior center in the Altai Republic [Russia’s constituent republic] knit warm socks for mobilized soldiers at the frontline.
Mobilized Irkutsk residents, who are currently undergoing combat training at Yurga’s training range, donated a modular gazebo for a playground, a TV and a speaker system to the “Raduga” [rainbow] orphanage for family placement of children and to the Yurga Orphanage for Children with Mental Disabilities.
Photos of children's letters sent to Russian servicemen in Ukraine have appeared in the Far Eastern OKOloPolitika chat. In one of them, the author Nikita Khristoforov writes, “We have a loss in our family, and I wish you to fight for our country. And let the Ukrainians die.”
The Verstka media outlet, together with OVD-Info [independent Russian human rights media project aimed at combating political persecution], analyzes how Russians have been resisting the war since February and found out that anti-war protests in Russia have broken a ten-year record for arrests. Since the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, thousands of Russians have taken to the streets to protest and speak out against the war. Many of them were fined, arrested, and some have been prosecuted. Here are some of the results of this analysis: since February 24, 19,443 opponents of the war have been detained (a 10-year record), more than 5 thousand administrative cases initiated, 378 people prosecuted, including 7 minors, and 50 people sentenced. “In fact, the number of people in Russia opposed to the war is greater than it seems. According to our calculations, there have been only 18 days without arrests since the end of February. That is, almost every day someone protested against the war,” OVD-Info lawyer Daria Korolenko says.