Russia could draft ‘up to one million soldiers’ to fight in Ukraine

According to Russian media reports, Moscow does not want to mobilize 300,000 but up to one million reservists for the Ukraine war.

A secret clause in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “partial” mobilization decree allows the Kremlin to draft far more troops than announced, a source said Novaya Gazeta Newspaper Europe.

“They changed the number several times and finally settled on one million,” the source said.

The figure of 300,000 was announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu after Putin Ghad announced the decision to mobilize.

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However, experts have raised questions about the accuracy of this figure.

“Shoigu’s number of 300,000 is just a fictional number that probably has no relation to what’s actually happening,” said Michael Kofman, director of Russia studies at security analysis firm CNA.

However, the Kremlin has disputed the one million figure, and spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it “a lie”.

The mobilization announced by Russia on Wednesday is the first since World War II.

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The development sparked the first mass protests against the war in the country in months, which led to the arrests of more than 1,300 people in 39 cities across Russia, according to human rights groups.

The recruitment campaign has also reportedly led to a large-scale brain drain of those who might be eligible for the draft.

While the purchase of one-way air tickets to nearby countries increased sharply, traffic at the border crossings with Finland and Georgia increased. Those trying to flee cannot enter Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or Poland as they turned away Russian tourists as of midnight Monday due to the Kremlin war in Ukraine.

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This was announced by a source from the Russian tourism industry Reuters how desperately the people had to flee.

“This is a panic call from people who fear they won’t be able to leave the country later – people are buying tickets without caring where they’re flying,” they said.

(AFP via Getty Images)

The Kremlin claimed such reports were exaggerated, but did not deny that draft papers were issued to men at anti-war demonstrations. Mr Peskov, the President’s spokesman, said it would not be against the law for the authorities to do so.

In its latest military update on Thursday, Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Russia would find it difficult to field even 300,000 new troops.

“Russia will likely struggle with the logistical and administrative challenges of mustering the 300,000 staff. It will likely attempt to set up new formations with many of these troops that likely won’t be combat-ready for months,” the department said.

“Even this limited mobilization is likely to be extremely unpopular with parts of the Russian population. Putin is taking a significant political risk in hopes of generating much-needed combat power,” he added.

Amid a series of humiliating setbacks in Ukraine, the Russian president said Moscow will annex parts of the territory it has seized. He added he was ready to use nuclear weapons to protect Russia.

(AFP via Getty Images)

Independent Newspaper Novaya Gazeta was revoked its operating license by a Russian court earlier this month. Founded almost 30 years ago, it has criticized and investigated Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Its editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, and the newspaper itself was founded with the late former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s 1990 Nobel Peace Prize wins.

Novaya Gazeta Europa was established in the Latvian capital Riga to circumvent Russian government laws banning coverage of the invasion that differed from Kremlin press statements.

After launch, Mr. Martynov said the newspaper would be independent Novaya Gazeta “both legally and in practice” and that its editorial board would be staffed by journalists who had left Russia.

Novaya Gazeta was also financially supported by Alexander Lebedev, a former owner of The Independent. Mr. Lebedev is the father of Evgeny Lebedev, a current shareholder of The Independent and evening standard.

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