Thursday, April 7, 2022

Moscow Adopts New Tactic to Supports Its Claims that It isn't Sending Draftees to Fight in Ukraine, Soldiers’ Mothers Committee Leader Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Mar. 29 – Three weeks ago, Vladimir Putin said that the Russian military would not use draftees in Ukraine, but the following day, the Russian defense ministry acknowledged that it was doing just that. And then, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Chief Military Procurator was looking into such cases.

            But according to Olga Morozova of the Saratov Oblast Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers,it appears that the Russian military may have come up with a tactic that will allow Moscow to continue to deny what in fact has been happening, the use of draftees in uniform for less than a year in the fighting in Ukraine (

            She says that at least some draftees before being sent to Ukraine have signed, quite likely under compulsion, documents changing their status to that of contract soldiers. To the extent they have done so, they aren’t draftees anymore; and reality has been brought into conformity with Putin’s claims.

            However, it appears that there really have been some Russian draftees sent to fight in Ukraine without such changes, although it seems highly unlikely that the Chief Military Procurator is going to ferret out them or the commanders who ordered them or that their families are going to succeed in getting them withdrawn.

            This is an extremely sensitive issue for both the powers and the Russian people. On the one hand, it highlights just how much difficulty Moscow is having in fielding an army in Ukraine given the military’s other responsibilities, including being the last line of defense of the Kremlin against expressions of popular anger.

            And on the other, this issue has arisen as Russia has begun a spring draft, one that some are suggesting may be a silent “referendum” on the war itself. If potential draftees fear that they will be sent to fight and possibly die in Ukraine, far more of them are likely to seek to evade service, making Moscow’s tasks more difficult. (On that prospect, see this author’s discussion at

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