Russian President Vladimir Putin signed an order Thursday that will add 134,500 new conscripts between the ages of 18 and 27 to Russia’s army as part of the country’s annual spring draft, according to Reuters.
Why it matters: The order comes five weeks after the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier this week that none of the new conscripts would be sent to any “hot spots,” though Moscow has previously attempted to conceal use of conscripts in Ukraine.
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Putin claimed at the beginning of March that Russian conscripts were not “participating in hostilities” in Ukraine, where the Russian military has taken more causalities than expected, though its exact death toll is currently unknown.
The Russian Defense Ministry later seemingly contradicted Putin, saying there were conscripts in Ukraine and that some had been taken prisoner by the Ukrainian army.
Putin ordered military prosecutors to investigate and charge the officials responsible for authorizing the use of conscripts.
The big picture: The Russian defense ministry updated the Russian death toll to 1,351 killed and 3,825 wounded last week, while a senior NATO official said that the defensive alliance estimates that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers had actually been killed so far.
Russia recently announced it would reduce military operations near the capital Kyiv and the northern city of Chernihiv as partial steps toward a peace deal.
U.S. and British officials disputed those claims, saying the scale back was instead likely Russia repositioning its troops in an attempt to reframe the objectives of its invasions from claiming Kyiv and changing the country’s government to “liberating” the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
Despite the reduction claims, Russian forces launched “a colossal attack” against Chernihiv on Wednesday, according to the city’s mayor.
Go deeper … Pentagon: “We would concur” with reports that Putin “not fully informed”
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