Wed, 07 Jun 2023

MOSCOW, Russia: A new campaign has begun across Russia to attract badly needed recruits to replenish its troop numbers for Moscow's war in Ukraine, by promising cash bonuses and other benefits.

Recruiters are also making cold calls to eligible men, and military offices are working with universities and social service agencies to enlist students and the unemployed.

In September 2022, a mobilization of 300,000 reservists caused panic throughout the country, since most men under 65 were formally reservists, forcing tens of thousands to flee Russia.

The Kremlin denies that another call-up is planned for its "special military operation" in Ukraine, which began on 24th February, 2022.

However, a recent report by the US-based think tank Institute of the Study of War said that amid widespread uncertainty about whether such a move will eventually happen, the government in Moscow aims to "avoid declaring a formal second mobilization wave," after the first one proved so unpopular.

Last week, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that serving summonses to update records in enlistment offices is the "usual practice" and a "continued undertaking."

All Russian men from age 18 to 27 must serve one year in the military, but many avoid the draft for health reasons or obtain student deferments.

In addition, men from Moscow and other major cities are more likely to avoid the draft, and many simply evade enlistment officials bearing conscription notices.

Kateryna Stepanenko, a Russia analyst with the Institute of the Study of War, said the current recruitment campaign is similar to one launched last summer before the September call-up.

"They have already recruited a significant portion of people that were financially incentivized last summer. And they struggled to do so last year," she said.

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