134,500 new Russian conscripts won’t go to Ukraine, defence ministry says

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order to draft 134,500 men into military service, but the defence ministry said that the conscripts would not serve in Ukraine.

The spring draft is an annual thing for Russia, but this year it coincided with the invasion of Ukraine, which started five weeks ago.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday that none of those called up would be sent to any “hot spots”.

The issue is a sensitive one because of an acknowledgment the defence ministry made on March 9 that conscripts had been sent to Ukraine even though Putin had denied it repeatedly.

Punishment to offenders

Putin is now investigating why his orders were disobeyed and promising punishment to offenders.

The annual draft affects men between the ages of 18 and 27, and runs from April 1 to July 15 each year. Those called up will begin to report for training by late May.

“Most military personnel will undergo professional training in training centres for three to five months. Let me emphasize that recruits will not be sent to any hot spots,” Shoigu said.

A lawyer representing several members of Russia’s National Guard who refused an order to go to Ukraine, Mikhail Benyash, said that under Russian law conscripts could be sent to fight after several months of training.

Unexpected difficulty

The war has not been going as well for Russia as that nation and others have expected.

Ukrainian fighters have killed at least seven top Russian generals, and up to 60% of Russia’s bombs on a given day have either failed to launch or landed unexploded. Ukraine has fixed some of the bombs and used them against Russia.

In recent days, Russian troops have backed off from trying to take the capital city, Kyiv, and have “reframed” their objective of taking over the country to only “liberating” regions that have high numbers of Russian-backed separatists, like the Eastern Donbas region.

Military analysts have said they think Putin may be trying to give himself a way to save face in his exit from the war.

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