Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to call up one million Russian soldiers to fight in the war in Ukraine, a Russian newspaper has claimed. The report comes after military analysts identified a classified paragraph in Putin’s “partial-mobilisation” decree. In a televised address to the nation on Wednesday, the Russian President announced a partial-mobilisation of troops that would only apply to “citizens who are currently in the reserve, especially those who have served in the armed forces, have certain military professions and relevant experience”.
Shortly after Putin’s announcement, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said 300,000 Russians would be called up as part of the mobilisation that will apply to “those with previous military experience”.
He said “these are not people who’ve never seen or heard anything about the army” and stressed that students can “keep going to class”.
But defence analysts pointed out that paragraph seven of Putin’s decree was classified, likely obscuring the true number of soldiers who would be sent to Ukraine.
Mark Voyger, a senior fellow with the Transatlantic Defense and Security Program at the Center for European Analysis, told Express.co.uk: “We need to pay attention to the entirety of the text for Putin’s decree because paragraph seven is actually classified.
“Usually, the Russian leadership leaves the last one or two items classified, they do not publish all the information openly.
“That’s been the case with previous such announcement, so they actually leave themselves some leeway, some opportunity to tweak those numbers.
“Therefore, even though they’ve said it is going to be 300,000 people in this mobilisation, the classified paragraph may be hiding additional troops.”
“For certain, they are going to recruit at least this publicly announced number and of course, probably more.”
Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper operating in exile, seems to have confirmed these suspicions after quitting an unnamed official in Putin’s government as saying the real plan was to call up one million people.
The source confirmed speculation that the seventh paragraph contained additional troops to be deployed to Ukraine.
Referring to the seventh paragraph the source said: “The figure was corrected several times, and in the end, they settled on a million.”
Following Putin’s announcement of escalation, protests erupted across Russia, organised by a number of groups including Vesna, a prominent anti-war, pro-democracy youth movement.
Over 1,300 people were detained at nationwide protests in over 30 cities on Wednesday when police beat up and brutally detained men and women who took to the streets to protest Putin’s decree.
It has now emerged that some of the protesters detained at Wednesday’s anti-war rallies have been told to show up at their local army draft offices as punishment.
A police monitoring group said by Thursday morning at least 15 people in Moscow and one person in Voronezh were handed summons obliging them to visit the local draft office where they could formally be called up.
Several opposition activists published photos of the paper with the personal details and the date for the appointment.
Meanwhile, within hours of the decree, all flights to visa-free countries from Russia were sold out.
Mr Voyger, who is also Director of the Masters of Science programme in Global Management at the American University of Kyiv, explained: “The reason Putin [has obscured the number of Russian soldiers being sent to Ukraine] is that the measure is already unpopular.
“Since the morning when he announced the partial mobilisation flights out of Moscow to Armenia, Georgia and Turkey have been fully booked and sold out.
“Anybody that has any means will try to leave Russia. It’s a deeply unpopular measure. Nobody really wants to fight and nobody is motivated to die.
“We are now seeing draft notes being served to people even in the street in St. Petersburg in Moscow – this is where the middle class of Russia mostly lives.
“Many people there have been to the West, have the internet, speak different languages… they have a better idea of how things really are in the war effort.
“They do not want to be used as cannon fodder in Ukraine to fight Putin’s illegitimate war.”