Russia could add 2.4 million eligible troops as war drags on

Russia may soon be adding millions of eligible troops as the war in Ukraine continues to drag on.

The Russian State Duma passed legislation that would raise the upper age limit of mandatory military service from 27 to 30 on Tuesday, according to The Kyiv Independent. The lower age limit for military conscripts would remain at 18 under the new legislation.

The new age limit, which will go into effect on January 1 if passed by the full legislature and signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, would reportedly result in up to 2.4 million more men being eligible for at least one year of required service in the Russian military.

Potential draft dodgers would also be targeted under the new law, which includes a prohibition on foreign travel for conscripts after they receive their draft notices. Previous Russian war mobilization efforts have been met with a significant number of age-eligible men fleeing the country.

Russian Conscript Age Bracket Change Ukraine War
Officers are pictured saluting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on June 27, 2023. The Russian State Duma this week passed a bill that would raise the upper age limit for eligible conscripts.

The bill was first proposed by State Duma Defense Committee Chairman Andrey Kartapolov in March. An earlier version would have also raised the lower age limit from 18 to 21. Kartapolov said that keeping the lower limit in place was necessary due to demographics.

“The edition of the draft law has changed due to the fact that the demographic situation is serious, [it] affects the volume of mobilization resource,” Kartapolov told Russian news agency Interfax. “And in order for us not to subside, such an edition is necessary.”

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has said that he plans to increase the total number of Russian troops, including conscripts and contract soldiers, from 1.15 million to 1.5 million, according to Reuters. The age bracket change would substantially increase the pool of potential conscripts.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine claimed in a Facebook post on Tuesday that a total of 243,680 Russian troops had been killed since the war in Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Newsweek has not independently verified the claim.

Newsweek reached out for comment to the Russian Ministry of Defense via email on Wednesday.

The age bracket change for conscripts could help Russia avoid being forced into a full mobilization. Mounting troops shortages likely prompted the State Duma to pass a bill last week that raised the eligible upper age limit of reserve troops to 70. The older troops could be called upon in the event of a full mobilization.

Additional measures to punish draft dodgers were also passed in the State Duma last week, including a 16-fold increase in the fine for those who do not heed the call to service without a valid reason.

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