Russia is poised to raise the age of men eligible to be drafted for military service, a sign that Moscow likely expects the war in Ukraine to drag on.
State Duma Defense Committee chair Andrei Kartapolov introduced a bill this week that would shift the draft-eligible age bracket, raising the range to age 21 to 30, up from the current range of 18 to 27.
The bill, however, mandates two transition years where the minimum age will gradually rise, meaning the new age range won’t be in place until 2025.
That means for the next two years, more men could be called into service.
Critics of the new legislation slammed the bill as a ploy to increase the number of men eligible to join the military and offset Russia’s losses in Ukraine, The Moscow Times reported.
The United Kingdom’s Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update that the bill will likely pass and go into effect in January.
The ministry noted that Russia has prevented draftees from serving in its Ukraine military operations, but estimated that at least hundreds have likely been deployed through administrative errors or by being forced to sign contracts.
A surge in conscripts also could help free up a number of professional soldiers stationed elsewhere who could then fight in the war, the defense ministry said.
The draft bill comes just months after Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu proposed bolstering Russia’s military from 1.15 million to 1.5 million, a move that Russian President Vladimir Putin supported.
Putin ordered a partial mobilization in September for at least 300,000 reservists to beef up Russia’s forces in Ukraine, although the decree sparked massive protests in Russia and caused hundreds of thousands of fighting-aged men to flee the country.
The Ukrainian battlefields have been brutal for Russian soldiers.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces claimed Saturday that since Russia began its invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, it has “liquidated” at least 164,200 soldiers.
Western intelligence sources estimate that each side has suffered approximately 150,000 casualties, including deaths and injuries, since the start of the war.
Last Sunday alone, Kyiv said 1,090 Russian combatants were killed.
With Post wires