May 18, 2022

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Russia has recruited 134,500 recruits but says they will not go to Ukraine

Russia has recruited 134,500 recruits but says they will not go to Ukraine

Russian soldiers walk during a military parade on Victory Day, which marks the 76th anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, on Red Square in central Moscow, Russia, May 9, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

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LONDON (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Thursday signed a decree ordering 134,500 new recruits into the army as part of Russia’s annual spring draft, but the Defense Ministry said the recall had nothing to do with the war in Ukraine.

The order came five weeks after the Russian invasion, which met fierce Ukrainian resistance. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that none of those summoned would be sent to any “hot spots”.

The issue of the involvement of conscripts in the war is a very sensitive issue. On March 9, the Defense Ministry acknowledged sending some to Ukraine after Putin denied this on various occasions, saying only professional soldiers and officers were sent. read more

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Putin’s spokesman said at the time that the president had ordered the military prosecutor to investigate and punish those responsible for violating his instructions to exclude the recruits.

Putin’s decree said the annual spring military conscription, which runs from April 1 to July 15, will affect Russian men aged 18 to 27.

Shoigu said on Tuesday that those summoned would start being sent to their designated bases in late May.

“Most of the military will undergo vocational training in training centers for a period of three to five months. Let me assure that the recruits will not be sent to any hot spots,” he said in statements posted on his ministry’s website.

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However, Mikhail Banyash, a lawyer who represents a number of Russian National Guard members who refused an order to go to Ukraine, said that under Russian law recruits could be sent to fight after several months of training.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 in what it described as a special military operation to disarm and “disarm” the country. The war claimed thousands of lives and displaced millions.

In recent days, Russia has reformulated its goals, saying it never intended to capture the capital, Kyiv and other major cities, but is focusing on “liberating” the eastern regions where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army since 2014.

Her comments were met with skepticism by Ukraine and Western governments. Military analysts pointed out that the declared focus on the eastern Donbass region may be an attempt to facilitate the pursuit of Putin’s exit to save face.

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(Reuters reporting, Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

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