Staunton, December 8 – Reflecting Moscow’s difficulties in finding enough men to serve in the military because of Russia’s demographic decline, difficulties exacerbated by Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, commanders are exploiting the ignorance of many draftees and forcing them to agree to sign on for longer terms of service as “professional soldiers.”
This violation of Russian law has been going on at least since last April, the Nizhny Novgorod Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers says, noting that 23 draftees had turned to it for help in demobilizing from the Russian army on schedule .
The committee said the 23 included Nizhny Novgorod natives now serving in Chita, Nizhny Novgorod region, Leningrad region, and other parts of the Russian Federation, evidence that this is now a widespread problem. Some of the soldiers, it said, are desperate because they do not know their legal rights and officers are not inclined to tell them what they are.
Some of the soldiers who are being intimidated into signing agreements extending their service directly connect this pressure with what is going on in Ukraine, the committee continued, and they have not been told that under a 2012 Russian law, individual commanders are prohibited from pushing draftees to agree to become professional soldiers.
If the draftees do sign the agreements their commanders are seeking to have them do, they must serve at a minimum two additional years.