The Kremlin has ordered a “voluntary mobilization” of up to 34,000 troops by the end of next month to repair its battered forces in Ukraine, analysts said.
The recruitment drive is part of a push to put Russians on a war footing without declaring full mobilization, a move that Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, deemed too politically risky.
Mr Putin also signed into law a parliamentary bill on Thursday that tightens rules for Russians working as “foreign agents”, mainly journalists and people linked to Western NGOs or receiving funds from the West. They are closely monitored and their activities, access and movements are restricted.
There are 85 federal areas in Russia, including Crimea and Sevastopol, which were annexed to Ukraine in 2014, and each was tasked with recruiting a 400-man volunteer battalion, the Washington-based think tank reported. Institute for the Study of War.
“The newly formed battalions are currently heading to the training grounds and will likely complete their month-long training by the end of August,” he said.
Some of these units were made up of former soldiers now in their 50s and 60s. Russian state television showed a unit of gray-haired men wearing combat gear and helmets practicing rifle marksmanship.
Russia has suffered at least 20,000 casualties in nearly five months of heavy fighting in Ukraine, more than the Soviet Union suffered in 10 years of war in Afghanistan in the 1980s.