Getting Drafted ‘Russian Style’ in 2022

What if they gave a war and nobody came?

There’s lots of news about this latest military draft, with tens of thousands of Russians becoming draft dodgers, so it seemed like a good time for some Déjà vu with some old protest songs.

“Confusion over who will be called up to fight has led to mass protests across the country, violence at draft offices, sold-out flights and chaotic scenes at border crossings. Large traffic jam at border crossing between Russia and Georgia that likely extended beyond the 10 miles that the satellite could capture in a single image. Around 3,600 passenger cars were waiting to cross into Georgia. Kazak border authorities said 98,000 Russian citizens have entered Kazakhstan since the mobilization was announced. A rush of its citizens trying to enter Finland and Kazakhstan.”

Russian exodus shows no signs of easing as Ukraine war looms over recruits | NBC News | September 27, 2022

“Shoigu is saying he needs 300,000 people. Then it could be 100,000 more and then 100,000 more. So it’s not a ‘partial mobilization,’ it’s a gradual mobilization,” said Alexander Baunov, a senior Russian fellow at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace. The move sparked protests in dozens of cities across Russia, as primarily younger Russians defied government warnings of criminal penalties. Many of the best Russian troops have not fared well in combat with Ukrainians over the past seven months, adding that the reservists have generally not had the same level of training or experience. Russia’s parliament approved laws criminalizing desertion and voluntary surrender by Russian troops. The punishment can be up to 10 years in prison.

Facing setbacks, Vladimir Putin makes his biggest gamble yet in Ukraine | NPR | September 22, 2022

At Istanbul’s main airport, a constant stream of Russian men came through the arrivals terminal. Flights from Russia to Turkey are sold out for the next several weeks, despite skyrocketing prices. Many anti-war Russians have settled here [Turkey]. One 32-year-old man told NPR that his flight was “completely full of men, from 20 and then till 50.” Nearly all the men said they had packed very light, trying to convince Russian authorities that they were leaving for short trips, and not to evade fighting in the war. Those who speak up against the war and mobilization are being arrested, beaten in custody and then sent to be drafted in the war.

Russian men flee the country. Many are showing up in Istanbul | NPR | September 26, 2022

Russia is drafting up obviously unsuitable candidates in a scramble to bulk up its army in Ukraine, according to multiple reports. A 63-year-old man from the Volgograd region was also drafted as part of the mobilization. The man has second-degree diabetes and a brain condition.

Russia drafted an old man with diabetes, a 17-year-old, and people with no training to fight in Ukraine, reports say — a sign of desperation | Business Insider | September 23, 2022

A hidden clause in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s partial mobilization decree permits the country’s defense ministry to draft one million reservists, according to a report from Novaya Gazeta Europe, which cited a source in the presidential administration. The Novaya Gazeta is an independent newspaper that’s been banned in Russia amid Putin’s crackdown on freedom of information and the free press, but continues to publish out of Riga, Latvia. The seventh paragraph of the decree is redacted and designated “for official use,” according to the report. 

Secret clause in Putin’s mobilization decree may allow him to draft up to 1 million reservists | Business Insider | September 22, 2022

“The lack of military trainers, and the haste with which Russia has started the mobilization, suggests that many of the drafted troops will deploy to the front line with minimal relevant preparation,” the ministry said. “They are likely to suffer a high attrition rate.”

Drafted Russians Sent to Front Lines Likely Have ‘Minimal’ Preparation: UK | Nesweek | September 26, 2022

The United States Embassy in Russia urged Americans in the country Tuesday to leave “immediately” and warned Americans against traveling to Russia in its most dire warning since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, as a mass exodus of conscription-eligible Russians flee to avoid Kremlin’s conscription.

Americans With Dual Citizenship Should Leave Russia ‘Immediately’ — Could Be Drafted, Embassy Warns | Forbes | September 28, 2022

Buryat rights activists suspect that the burden of the mobilisation – and the war itself – is falling on poor, ethnic minority regions to avoid triggering popular anger in the capital Moscow, which is 6,000 km (3,700 miles) away. “There’s nothing partial about the mobilisation in Buryatia,” said Alexandra Garmazhapova, president of the Free Buryatia Foundation, an organisation that provides legal help to those mobilised. “They are taking everyone.” One resident of the Buryatia village of Orongoi, whose population in 2010 was 1,700, told Reuters that 106 men from the village had been mobilised.

Russia’s mobilization hits hard in poor, rural Buryatia | Reuters | September 24, 2022

Sightings of Russians wandering the streets of cities throughout the region with backpacks and lost expressions have become commonplace. So, too, have lengthening lines at the state borders that Russian citizens can still cross without visas, as reports that Moscow may soon move to close off the exits — at least to men of fighting age — deepen the panic.

Central Asia Grapples With Influx Of Russians Fleeing Conscription | | September 28, 2022

The Russian army has hit a new low as footage emerges of newly drafted troops admitting they’ve been sent straight to war with no training whatsoever. “We were officially told there would be no training before we are sent to the war zone,” one mobilized Russian said in a video. Basic combat training for American troops, by comparison, lasts approximately ten weeks. Since the outset of the war, Russian troops have been encountering troubles with their equipment, training, morale, and preparation for conflict.

‘No Training’: Putin’s Army Just Got Sloppier Than Ever Before | The Daily Beast | September 28, 2022

Putin was careful to emphasize that the military assault – euphemistically referred to as a “special military operation” – would only be fought by military professionals. That was a fiction, and one that allowed many Russians to be lulled into a sense of normalcy, going about their lives in Moscow or St. Petersburg indifferent to the horrific carnage in Ukraine. The “partial mobilization” declared last week by the Kremlin leader has abruptly ended that and fear is now convulsing Russia’s body politic. Women were captured in social media videos confronting police, saying, “Why are you taking our children? Who attacked who? It’s Russia that attacked Ukraine!”

Putin’s draft could upend the deal that kept him in power | CNN | September 27, 2022

UPDATE: Desperate Russian Draftees Have a New Battle Strategy—Pretend to Be Dead
November 2, 2022 | Daily Beast – The military draft announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin sent hordes of fearful fighting-age men fleeing for the border, but even they couldn’t have appreciated the true horror of what those unlucky enough to be mobilized and sent to the frontline in Ukraine are having to face. Reports of drafted Russians being sent to fight with wildly insufficient training and “barely usable” equipment have abounded for weeks, but a new report suggests that recruits are resorting to pretending to be dead in the heat of battle to save their own lives. Full story

UPDATE: Putin Acknowledges Mistakes in Carrying Out His Draft
September 29, 2022 | New York Times – In televised remarks to top security officials, Mr. Putin said that the draft had raised “many questions,” and that “all mistakes must be corrected and prevented from happening in the future.” He described cases of people entitled to deferments being wrongly drafted, such as fathers of three or more children, men with chronic diseases or those above military age.
“If a mistake is made, I repeat, it must be corrected,” he said in a videoconference with his Security Council. “Those who were called up without proper reason should be returned home.” Full story