Following Kremlin chief Vladimir Putin’s order for partial mobilization for the war in Ukraine, the leadership in Moscow complained of “hysteria” in the country.
At the same time, it excluded reservists with certain professions from forced recruitment. For example, IT specialists, experts for securing the financial system or employees of the mass media who belong to the “system-preserving” professions would not be drafted, the Defense Ministry in Moscow announced on Friday.
Thousands of men fled the country as reservists were called up for the war in Ukraine. The exodus is also considered a danger for the Russian economy. After Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, tens of thousands of people left the country.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called for adequate information. “It’s kind of understandable that there was a hysterical, extremely emotional reaction in the first few hours after the announcement and even on the first day, because there was actually insufficient information,” said Peskow. In the meantime, however, there are also hotlines to clarify questions over the phone.
The head of the defense committee in the Russian parliament, Andrei Kartapolow, explained with regard to the flight that the law on mobilization does ban reservists from leaving the country. However, because it is a partial mobilization, the law will not be applied. Travel within Russia and abroad is therefore allowed. But he recommended reservists who are unsure to go to the draft station themselves to clarify what is and isn’t allowed.
Complaints about chaotic mobilization in Russia are growing louder
The Russian mobilization is now also increasingly attracting criticism from supporters of President Vladimir Putin. The editor-in-chief of the state broadcaster RT, Margarita Simonyan, railed against the chaotic actions of the authorities on her Telegram channel.
“It has been announced that privates can be recruited up to the age of 35. The subpoenas are for 40-year-olds,” Simonyan explained. “They piss people off like they’re doing it on purpose, like they’re doing it out of malice. As if they were sent from Kyiv.”
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began seven months ago, there has been little criticism from pro-Kremlin quarters. But Simonyan is not alone. On Saturday, the head of the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council, Valery Fadeyev, said he had written to Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to “urgently resolve” mobilization problems.
In a post on Telegram, he criticized the way exemptions were applied. He cited several instances of improper conscription, including nurses and midwives with no military experience. “Some (recruiters) hand out the draft papers at 2 a.m. like they think we’re all draft evaders.”
People without military experience are drafted
In the past few days there have been reports from different parts of Russia of men who have received draft orders despite having no military experience or being over the draft age. In another rare public sign of unrest at the top, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Deputy Defense Minister Dmitry Bulgakov, in charge of logistics, had been replaced.
Russia officially counts millions of ex-conscripts as reservists – potentially nearly all of the combat-age male population. Wednesday’s decree announcing the “partial mobilization” did not specify who would be called up. Officials say 300,000 troops are needed, with priority given to those with recent military experience and key skills.
The Russian Presidential Office has denied reports by two foreign-based media outlets that a hidden clause in Russia’s mobilization decree provides for the call-up of more than a million reservists.
Since the announcement of the first mobilization in Russia since World War II, numerous Russian men have tried to avoid conscription by fleeing abroad. At times, long lines have formed at the borders with Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Finland and Georgia. (dpa/Reuters)
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