Russian Federation (RF) recruiters ordered to find men or else are employing strong-arm tactics to fill army ranks, but Russian public enthusiasm to fight in Ukraine is low and draft evasion is rampant, according to Ukrainian telephone conversation intercepts, independent media, and intelligence intercepts by both the British Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Pentagon.

Ukraine’s national security agency the SBU on May 18 made public a recording purportedly of a telephone conversation between an RF soldier identified as Andrei and his family in Donetsk, in which he asked them to pay bribes to give him a fictional heart condition so he might quit the military and combat service in Ukraine.

Soldiers refusing to fight face criminal charges and are sometimes tortured, he said. In a subsequent conversation a woman identified as


Andrei’s mother reported other soldiers in his unit have evaded service by faking a mental conditions.

“That’s a good way of getting out of it,” she said, according to the recording. “He hit his head a long time ago…and now he doesn’t have to go fight.”

“Do whatever you can,” her son said. “I have to get out of here.”

According to a May 19 estimate by Ukraine’s Army General Staff (AGS), since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine Kremlin forces have around 28,500 men killed in action. The British Ministry of Defense (MoD) on May 15 said that it believes total RF losses killed and wounded since the invasion are at least one-third of the 200,000+ men the Kremlin started the war with.

Most of the RF casualties have been concentrated in RF infantry, artillery, and tank formations, making many if not most of Moscow’s combat units in Ukraine critically short, particularly of front line fighters, and in drastic need of reinforcements, frontline Ukrainian soldiers told KP in interviews last week.

The Kremlin is responding to the combat solider gap by changing draft laws, setting police the task deliver men to draft boards to be forced into service, and particularly by targeting men living in RF-occupied Ukraine, said Kyrill Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense central intelligence section, according to a May 13 UNIAN news agency report.


According to estimates by Ukrainian and international intelligence agencies, in spite of heavy army casualties in Ukraine, the Kremlin wants to avoid a cross-Russia mobilization for war, because of the danger of mass protests in large cities with substantial numbers of middle-class residents like Moscow, Petersburg, Krasonodar, Novosibirsk, and Khabarovsk.

Kremlin spokesmen have repeatedly stated new draftees into the Russian army will never serve in Ukraine, in part because the invasion is going well.

But, in RF-occupied Ukrainian territory, RF authorities have registered men aged 18-60 for potential military call-up and begun o force men aged 18-30 into uniform as soon as possible, as part of a “shadow mobilization” campaign, Budanov said.

In the RF-controlled “Donetsk Peoples’ Republic” (DPR) and the “Luhansk Peoples’ Republic” (LPR), both Ukrainian territories controlled by Russia since 2014, authorities also have canceled university student exemptions to military service, said Viktor Andriusiv, an advisor to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, in a May 18 statement.


DPR and LPR police are, per Andriusiv’s comments and multiple news reports, going from door to door searching for young men to drag into draft boards, but results are poor because practically all potential soldiers are in hiding.

Serhiy Haidai, head of the UAF-associated Luhansk regional defense command, said that in the LPR even threats of execution by firing squad have failed to bring in draft dodgers, whose families are helping them.

On 15 May Luidmila Denysova, the Ukrainian parliament’s human rights ombudswoman said authorities in both the DPR and LPR had taken the extraordinary step of placing women aged 18-45 in draft board registers. The last time women were drafted in the former Soviet space was from 1941-45, in response to Nazi German invasion.

RF manpower shortages had become so acute in the southern wing of RF forces operating in Ukraine, that authorities in the RF-occupied Crimea have taken the politically-risky step of “mobilizing” – more than 14,000 men who had served in the Ukrainian army prior to Russia’s 2014 gunpoint annexation of the peninsula, Andruisiv said.

Unlike the DPR and LPR, the Kremlin considers Crimea part of Russia, and residents there RF citizens. Former UAF service members still living in Crimea had previously not been subject to possible mobilization in the RF army, although they had in selected cases been allowed to volunteer.


In Russia’s Charodinsky region, in the dirt-poor Caucasian territory Dagestan, per a Russia state-controlled RT-1 television news report, military commissar Magomed Mavomedov complained that the 2022 spring army enlistment campaign was going extremely badly, “even though they (draft age Dagestani men) have been repeatedly informed draftees will not be put into active military operations… (They) are refusing to respond to draft notices and ignoring draft board summons.” He said authorities needed to work harder to deliver military-age men to draft boards.

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