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Russia Calling up Old Men, Sick and Untrained to Fight in Ukraine

  • Putin announced that some Russians would be forced to join the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
  • The new decree would only affect those with prior military training.
  • Reports suggest this is being ignored in a battle to bolster Russia’s war effort.

Russia is fielding clearly unsuitable candidates in a battle to bolster its army in Ukraine, according to multiple reports.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization on Wednesday and promised to call up 300,000 people, but only from Russia’s existing pool of military reservists.

Conscripts and students would not be drafted, and the new decree would only affect those with previous combat experience, Russian officials added.

However, there are indications that these standards are ignored in practice.

A 26-year-old PhD student and lecturer at a leading Russian university this week told the BBC that despite his student status, two men came to his home to summon him.

The student, identified only as Sergei, told the BBC he was confused by the call as he has no military experience.

A 63-year-old man from the Volgograd region was also called up as part of the mobilization, independent Russian news site The Insider reported. (The outlet has no relationship with Insider.)

The man, identified only as Yermolaev, has second-degree diabetes and a brain condition known as cerebral ischemia, The Insider reported. Yermolaev had previously served in the military and is now retired.

On Thursday, he was called to a medical examination center where he was told by doctors that he was “fit to go to the front,” The Insider reported.

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Insider was unable to independently verify the accounts.

‘People say a lot of men are being taken away, regardless of the criteria’

While Russian officials have promised that only those with military experience will be called up, a clause in Putin’s mobilization decree means it is possible to override that norm at any time, experts say.

A man from Buryatia, a mountainous region in eastern Siberia, told The Insider that recruiting officials were “combing through the villages.”

“People say a lot of men are being taken away regardless of the criteria. There are 400 people in our village and they took 20 men,” the man, who was not named, told The Insider.

A video shared on social media showed one such recruiting campaign in an undisclosed location in Russia. In it, a recruiting officer yells at a room full of men that they now belong to the military and will be sent to fight after just two weeks of training.

A BBC reporter tweeted on friday that a 17-year-old boy was summoned after he was arrested during an anti-war protest in Moscow, and shared a document saying so. The minimum age to enlist in the Russian army is 18 years.

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Russian conscription requires men aged 18 to 27 to serve in the military for one year.

“President Putin’s call to partially mobilize Russian citizens and order them to fight in Ukraine reflects the Kremlin’s struggle on the battlefield, the unpopularity of the war and the Russians’ unwillingness to fight in it,” he said. United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken. said in a statement.

“President Putin is not operating from a strong position; rather, this is another sign of his failing mission.”

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