Russia says over 200,000 drafted into army since Putin’s decree

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 (Reuters) – Over 200,000 people have already been drafted into Russia’s armed forces since President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial mobilisation two weeks ago, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

Shoigu had announced that he planned to enlist 300,000 men with previous military experience to bolster Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where it has suffered a series of defeats in recent weeks.

However, the official decree did not include a figure, and officials are keen to allay public fears that the actual number could be higher, as even pro-Kremlin figures voice concern that people are being recruited indiscriminately.

Reports have surfaced of men with no military experience or past draft age receiving call-up papers, adding to outrage that has reignited dormant – and banned – anti-war demonstrations.

Tens of thousands of men seeking to avoid the draft have already fled abroad, and the public remains concerned that the mobilisation could be expanded.

President Vladimir Putin acknowledged mistakes in the mobilisation last week and said they should be corrected.

Shoigu also said on Tuesday that those volunteering to fight should not be turned away without a “serious reason”.

Speaking at a consultation with other senior military figures, he said new units were receiving instruction at 80 training ranges and six training centres, according to a Defence Ministry posting on Telegram.

Putin was set on Tuesday to formalise Russia’s annexation of four Ukrainian territories, despite the fact that Moscow does not fully control any of them.

Ukraine and its Western allies have refused to recognise the annexations, which they say are illegal.

Reporting by Reuters; editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Kevin Liffey

Russian conscripts attend a military training at a ground training range in the Rostov-on-Don region in southern Russia. EPA-EFE/ARKADY BUDNITSKY

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