(CNN) Vladimir Putin Russia is about to sign a law regulating military conscription. Moscow War in Ukraine.
The bill would allow electronic delivery of military call-up papers in addition to traditional letters, and would prohibit those liable for military service from traveling abroad.
Russian officials have denied suggestions that the bill lays the groundwork for a new wave of mobilization — Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that it was to “fix the mess” following September’s controversial partial mobilization order. Thousands of Russians flee.
But tough new rules make it harder and harder for Russian men to avoid being ordered, and Russians have expressed their concerns about the plan to CNN.
“Now it would be much easier to mobilize myself, how digitized life is in Moscow,” Alexey, a 41-year-old lawyer from Moscow, told CNN. Although he was not under the official age limit for mobilization, he did not expect the Kremlin to follow their own guidelines when calling for recruitment.
“I have no illusions about the assurances of the officials who insist that these amendments were passed exclusively to improve the bookkeeping of the draft and have nothing to do with the second mobilization wave,” he said. “I don’t believe a word of it.
“I believe mobilization never ends. It started and continues till date,” he added. You can see this development as preparation of the state to step up mobilization. A large number of conscripts can be declared and mobilized in a short period of time.”
Under the bill, the Kremlin would consider Russians notified from the moment they receive an invitation, even if they don’t see it, and would be barred from leaving Russia after seven days.
Those who fail to show up for a military summons without a valid reason within 20 days face restrictions such as the inability to register and drive a vehicle, the inability to register an apartment, and the inability to register as an individual entrepreneur. Self-employed people will find it difficult to get credit.
The bill passed its third reading in the lower house of Russia’s parliament on Tuesday, and was approved by the upper Federation Council on Wednesday. The final formality is for Putin to sign the law.
‘I don’t trust the authorities’
Asked during a routine call with reporters whether the Kremlin was concerned that the proposed law, if passed, would trigger another wave of mass exodus by Russians, spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “Absolutely not. It has nothing to do with mobilization, it has to do with military registration.”
But the move could lay the groundwork for further unfettered expansion of Russia’s recruitment efforts.
“I don’t trust the authorities today in Russia. I fear for my son more than my own life,” said Alexei, whose son is approaching the official age limit for conscription.
CNN spoke to Olga, 48, who said she fears her 16-year-old son will be sent off to fight in the coming years, derailing her plans for higher education.
“I feel very bad about this war. The same goes for all other wars and deaths by force regardless of the cause,” he said. “I want wars to be fought only by professional army or volunteers.
“(The war) should drag on and intensify, and if there is a real second wave of mobilization, I think some will definitely try to leave (Russia),” he added.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense conscripts men for compulsory military service twice a year, in the spring and fall. According to an official document released by the government, spring conscription will apply to 147,000 citizens between the ages of 18 and 27 this year and will run from April 1 to July 15.
Currently, mandatory documents in Russia must be hand-delivered at the local military recruitment office or by an employer. The new bill makes e-summons the equivalent of the traditional method — uploading them to a government portal called Gosuslugi — and does not take into account whether it has been read.
“There is no second wave,” Peskov said, pressed further to respond to rumors of a new attempt at mass mobilization. The bill is designed to make it “modern, efficient and convenient for citizens,” he told reporters in a conference call later Wednesday.
The rare defeat was greeted by chaos after the initial attempt in September, as many Russians headed for the border to avoid being sent to fight. Protests also broke out in ethnic minority areas, and some military registration offices were set on fire. The original announcement sparked rare anti-war demonstrations across Russia.
Officials said they had met the draft’s goal of hiring 300,000 workers by the end of October.
Although the Kremlin was quick to downplay the significance of the move, its arrangements and timing were convenient for the embattled military. deadlock in its field campaign In eastern Ukraine, after months of half-hearted war, blood has drained their manpower and weapons.
Western officials told CNN last week they believe Russia is having trouble building “trained military manpower.”
“[Russia has] Admitting they need 400,000 more troops not just for the conflict [in Ukraine]But pass the new systems that will be placed on the new border with NATO and Finland,” the officials said at a conference on Wednesday, in response to a question from CNN.
“It’s not clear now how they are making it,” the officials added, noting that the new wave of calls could pose risks for Moscow. “It’s not clear at the moment whether another round of population mobilization can continue and whether the Kremlin really wants to test the population’s resilience, but the fact that they’re not doing it suggests they have some concerns.”
CNN’s Vasco Godovio and Max Foster contributed reporting.