Russia Approves Electronic Conscription for Draftees

April 12, 2023

Russia’s upper house of Parliament approved a bill Wednesday allowing the issuance of electronic draft summonses amid the war in Ukraine.

The Russian Federation Council’s vote was the final step necessary before sending the bill to President Vladimir Putin, who’s expected to sign it into law. 

The legislation was fast-tracked as Russia is preparing for a Ukrainian counteroffensive that could happen within weeks. Previously, Russia has required in-person delivery of draft notices to conscripts and reservists, and many Russians avoided the draft by staying away from their address that’s on record.

Since invading Ukraine in February 2022, Russia has had for some time troubles with conscripts, who are a major source of its professional enlisted soldiers. Moscow has had to use an “ad hoc” approach to replenish its front lines, including volunteers, convicts and foreign fighters. 

Putin announced a draft of 300,000 reservists in September after a Ukrainian counteroffensive had pushed Russian forces out of broad swaths of territory in the east. The move sparked an exodus of tens of thousands of Russian men, who fled the country rather than be drafted.

In January, the U.S. sanctioned the Russian mercenary organization the Wagner Group on allegations of human rights abuses, including using convicts as cannon fodder.

According to the new law, recipients who fail to respond to their conscription notices and show up for military service would be prohibited from leaving Russia, have their drivers’ licenses suspended and be barred from selling their apartments and other assets.

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