Putin Orders 134,500 New Conscripts Into Army, But Says They Won't Go To Front Lines

Amid the ongoing debate over the extent to which Russian forces have actually withdrawn from near Kiev, which has not witnessed any recent shelling of the city itself (but in some suburbs outside the capital), Vladimir Putin has signed a new order that signals Russian forces are ready for further escalation inside Ukraine.

Reuters details Thursday that the new law will add 134,500 conscripts between the ages of 18 and 27 to Russia's armed forces. It comes in the context of the country's annual spring draft, but also amid widespread speculation that the military is fairing much more poorly than expected, now firmly into the second month of the Ukraine invasion. 
Putin Orders 134,500 New Conscripts Into Army, But Says They Won't Go To Front Lines
Kremlin pool/EPA/EFE

However, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu sought to make clear the new recruits won't be sent to any "hot spots" - meaning they are not expected to enter Ukraine - and it remains that it could take up to six months or a year to process in new military members and get them trained. 

Previously Putin himself had claimed that new conscripts aren't currently "participating in hostilities" across the Ukraine border. 

According to the most recent numbers from the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Russian death toll in Ukraine is at least 1,351 killed and 3,825 wounded, as of last week. But NATO officials have said that figure is in reality in the 7,000 to 15,000 range, while Ukrainian sources and some Western media reports have suggested as many as 17,000.

Even if new conscripts are not sent to the front lines, a large influx of new recruits can serve to open up troop flows into the conflict, by manning crucial bases at home, and serving pressing logistical needs.

After Putin signed the law Thursday, CNN and other mainstream networks presented that it was done in direct response to massive losses on the Ukraine battlefield, however...

By the start of this week, Russia's military command had made clear that strategic efforts will focus on fully liberating the Donbas, which would require 'redeployments' from near Kiev and Chernihiv. It remains unclear if this marks a complete shift in scope, or if perhaps this was the plan from the beginning. Overnight Tuesday into Wednesday Chernihiv's mayor said the city came under "colossal attack" - suggesting there's actually been little that's changed.

Kiev officials have also pointed to Russia's willingness to employ more long-range bombardment of Ukrainian cites, increasing the dangers to the civilian population, while at the same time keeping Russian ground forces at a further distance from Ukrainian resistance. 

Planet Today

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