The Russian president last week signed about 134,500 new conscripts in the country’s army as part of the biennial draft.
A Western official said there was a “realistic” possibility that conscripts would be sent to Ukraine in addition to troops currently in Georgia.
“The timing is similar to previous Spring designs, but we think it’s an unusually high number,” they said.
“We think there is a real possibility that these conscripts will be sent to Ukraine, even though the Russian Ministry of Defense has said that only professional soldiers will go to Ukraine.”
The official added: “Russia is re-deploying elements of the troops in Georgia to intensify the invasion of Ukraine.”
The Ministry of Defense previously acknowledged some were sent to Ukraine but added the officials’ responsibility would be punished.
After nearly six weeks of the war, NATO estimates up to 15,000 Russian soldiers may have been killed in combat.
Ukraine claims that this number is now close to 20,000.
Five months into Russia’s fighting on Ukraine, the Kremlin still needs to decree a public rally to draft troops for its invasion. Still, there is growing information that it is enticing and pressuring men of defying age to join, as well as leaning on younger draftees to sign agreements so they can deploy to the show.
In Bashkortostan — a Russian republic found some 1,300 kilometers east of Moscow — many conscripts parents have requested the local military prosecutor’s office over protests that their sons were illegally confined at the conscription office and were informed that they would be shipped to Rostov. This Russian region borders eastern Ukraine.
According to four different relatives who said to RFE/RL’s Tatar-Bashkir Service, conscription offices in the area have proceeded quickly and cut corners in the recruitment process and also taken the incredible steps of transmitting the Bashkortostan conscripts to units in Rostov, instead of to areas close to home and out from the front lines, as had been earlier stated.
The swift actions and break in the protocol have left many parents worrying that their sons may be persuaded into signing as agreement soldiers and joining the Russian fighting in neighboring Ukraine.
“My son was suddenly taken into the army, not even allowing him to quit his law certificate,” Alla Papusova, the mother of Dmitry Malyshev, was illustrated in Russia’s present conscription cycle, told RFE/RL. “They said that on the morn of July 3, he would be sent to the Rostov region, although originally, they said that [the conscripts] would be sent to help in the Chelyabinsk region,” in south-central Russia near the border with Kazakhstan.
Russia is conducting its bound draft, which seeks to recruit approximately 130,000 men between the ages of 18-27 by the middle of July.
Moscow has not presented mass mobilization of fighting-age men since overrunning Ukraine on February 24 because it has not officially announced itself at war. Under Russian law, conscripts can only be sent to Ukraine if they have at least four months of training. The Kremlin has repeatedly said it won’t deploy draftees to Ukraine, but there have been several substantiated cases of them being sent into combat during the campaign.
As Russian deaths have risen, Moscow has turned increasingly to professional and contract soldiers and those from private security and military units to replenish its ranks. Russian drafting offices have been intensifying their endeavors of late to reactivate reservists and entice new soldiers, as well as reportedly leaning on draftees to sign warrants to deploy to Ukraine as professional soldiers, despite receiving minimal training.
“We’re scared that he will be compelled to sign a warrant while he’s [in Rostov] and then end up in Ukraine,” Papusova said.
Growing Conscription Pressure
Along with Dmitry Malyshev’s parents, other relatives from across Bashkortostan have pleaded to the military prosecutor’s office in Ufa, the regional capital, to request intervention in their sons’ situation. Many conscripts are also university students and should be permitted to defer military service until their studies are completed.
In several declarations made to the office, which RFE/RL saw, the parents indicated that they disagreed with the decision by the draft board since their sons had been suspended from being prepared for the army due to their analyses. Families of the recruits also insisted that their sons be permitted to exit the enlistment office once they’d answered their summons and not instantly be sent off for their assistance, and also to donate them the opportunity to question where they would be sent.