Dmitry Medvedev, Deputy Chairman of Russia’s Security Council, asserted that 325,000 people enlisted for contract-based military service in the Russian Army between Jan. 1 and Sept. 26, 2023. Earlier on Sept. 3, Medvedev was claiming that 280,000 people had signed contracts. Therefore, if he is to be believed, the rate of recruitment has increased from 1,500 to 2,000 people per day.
The Voyennye Advokaty [Military Lawyers] Telegram channel points out that the upper age limit for serving in the reserve will be increasing each year by one year, starting on Jan. 1, 2024, from 50 to 55. Not only will mobilized soldiers see an extension of the duration of service, but draft offices could now call up 50-year-old men if a new wave of mobilization takes place. In theory, people who turned 50 in 2023 should not be impacted, since draft offices should be proactively retiring them from service. In practice, however, this does not always happen. Consequently, they are advised to double check that the retirement has been processed by requesting a mark in their passport and military ID to indicate they are no longer liable for military service.
BBC News Russian reviewed the statements of senior Russian officials concerning the number of people needed and recruited to continue the war against Ukraine in the upcoming months, in order to ascertain their veracity and the likelihood of a new wave of mobilization. The latter appears unlikely at this point, because draft offices will be busy with the fall regular conscription campaign, which begins on Oct. 1. That said, a type of "covert mobilization" cannot be excluded if new conscripts are pressured into signing contracts during their conscription service.
A mobile recruitment station was set up in the town of Aleksandrov, Vladimir region, seeking local men for contract military service in Ukraine. Covert mobilization is well underway in the region, which clearly transpires as the local government keeps reporting about groups of volunteer fighters being deployed to the frontline.
A local defense force titled Oplot [Stronghold] has been enrolling volunteers in the Rostov region since August 2023 for the protection of the region from "both external and internal enemies." Founder of Oplot Valeriy Bova committed to back up law enforcement in crushing street protests that may erupt in the wake of the presidential elections in Russia. The group is led by ex-Wagner members and can be joined even by those who were rejected by draft offices. Bova estimates that the group currently has about 50 members, but plans to enroll up to 300 more men by March 2024.
Irina Krynina, who was among the women who released a video address last Sept. 1 pleading to organize a large-scale prisoner-of-war exchange, fled to Kyiv to reunite with her husband. She became the first Russian woman to join her husband, held prisoner of the war, through a bespoke project called "We Give Your Husband Back." Speaking with the Lyudi Baikala [People of Baikal] independent media outlet, Krynina reaffirmed that the family had no intention to return to Russia in the near future.
An ex-convict, recruited for the war by the Russian Ministry of Defense, recorded a video complaining about beatings by fellow soldiers from the Storm-Z unit as punishment for firing his assault rifle while intoxicated. The man admitted to the shooting but claimed that "all precautions were taken to avoid harming civilians" and expressed his intention to disable himself just to leave the unit’s quarters, as he feared reprisal.
A mobilized former employee of the Ministry of Emergency Situations recorded an address to Putin, complaining that instead of food, soldiers were given rotten lemons, and instead of drinking water, they received technical water. He expected this issue to be addressed, but he was assaulted at the unit's quarters and threatened to be tied to a tree near the forward positions. Upon returning from leave after being transferred to another unit, the man was finally able to inform journalists from the Sibir.Realii [part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty] online media outlet about what had happened.
In the Kursk region, near the village of Kozino, military personnel crashed into a power pylon because the operator mechanic failed to control the vehicle. As a result of the accident, one soldier died, and two others were injured and taken to the hospital.
A court in the Chelyabinsk region remanded a 19-year-old mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter to a pre-trial detention center. He is suspected of involvement in a street conflict that resulted in the death of war participant Maksim Nikitin. Nikitin went on leave at the end of August and, on Sept. 15, met with his classmates at a bar in the village of Novokaolinovy, where the brawl occurred.
A mobilized man from Russia's constituent Republic of North Ossetia–Alania complained that in the occupied Tokmak, he was assaulted by military police officers. The assault was accompanied by nationalist slogans. The injured showed signs of beating and burns on his back from a heated barrel of an assault rifle. According to the man, he and his fellow soldier were detained due to allegations made by a local woman of rape and pedophilia. The mobilized man denied all the accusations. Sergey Menyaylo, Head of North Ossetia, intervened in the conflict and promised to conduct an investigation.
A court in Volgograd sentenced a rescuer from Rostov-on-Don to three years of imprisonment for going AWOL. In September of the previous year, 52-year-old Eduard Mirzoev signed a contract and went to the war as a volunteer fighter. He returned home after three months. In the spring, Mirzoev learned that he was considered to have gone AWOL.
The case of Yegor Balazeykin, a 17-year-old high school student accused of setting fire to two military commissariats [enlistment offices], has been forwarded to court. The young man was taken into custody on March 3, and is currently held at the pre-trial detention center No. 5 in Saint Petersburg. According to the Politzek-Info [Political Prisoner Info] project, the court will determine a restrictive measure for him on Sept. 29. Balazeykin suffers from autoimmune hepatitis, and his relatives believe that his health is being irreparably harmed while he is held in the pre-trial detention center.
In the Chelyabinsk region, the Ministry of Social Relations has announced its plans to increase sign-up bonuses for war participants by 50 percent, from 50,000 to 75,000 rubles [from $521 to $782]. The lump-sum payment to the children of the participants will remain at 20,000 rubles [$208].
The Krylya Zaboty [Wings of Care] volunteer group is raising money in order to provide conscripts on the Ukrainian border with cars, spare parts and winter tires, which they urgently need. Additionally, the volunteers make pillows and dry showers for the military and prepare food for them.
In the Irkutsk region, wives of mobilized soldiers have enrolled in combat training classes at the Sibir military-patriotic club. There, they aim to learn how to protect their families in the absence of their husbands. In addition, they express the desire to join their husbands on the frontline.
The Defenders of the Fatherland Fund, established by Putin, has reported on its activities in Saint Petersburg and the Leningrad region. Over the summer, the organization received 6,500 appeals from soldiers. According to branch managers, the fund is now training former military personnel to become UAV operators, allowing them to "reintegrate themselves after returning from the special military operation." On Sept. 22, the foundation was awarded a government grant of more than 5 billion rubles [$51,800,000]. In June, the organization had already received a grant of 1.3 billion rubles [$13,500,000], with almost the entire amount allocated to staff salaries.
Authorities in Russia’s constituent Republic of Tatarstan are considering the purchase of equipment for schools to facilitate the design of drones. According to the regional Ministry of Education and Science, despite the existence of an aviation class network in the republic, the issue of designing unmanned aerial vehicles has yet to be resolved.
Over 115,000 children from the Belgorod region will be taught how to behave during artillery attacks and missile strikes. Starting from Sept.1, 15-minute civil defense lessons are being conducted in kindergartens, schools, and educational institutions across the Belgorod region, involving both children and adults. They are being educated on how to respond to various threats, including artillery attacks, missile strikes, hostage situations, drone attacks, and the presence of armed individuals on the premises. Additionally, an 11-year-old boy has joined the Belgorod territorial defense forces, following in the footsteps of his parents.