Conflicts & War

Putin cracks down on Russian soldiers refusing to fight

Moscow, Sep 24 (EFE).- Russian president Vladimir Putin signed Saturday a new law that toughens punishment for soldiers not complying with orders during wartime or mobilization.

Soldiers who refuse to fight, surrender or disobey orders now face up to 15 years in jail.

Under the new law, desertion is punishable by up to 15 years in jail while those who voluntarily surrender will face from three to 10 years behind bars.

Those convicted of looting during mobilization will also face a sentence of up to 15 years while the toughest sentence, from 8 to 15 years, will apply to looting committed by an organized group with threats to kill or inflict harm.

The new law was approved earlier this week by the houses of parliament just days before the Kremlin announced a partial mobilization of the Russian army.

Shortly after Putin’s announcement on Wednesday, thousands of Russians scrambled to flee the country, forming long queues at border points and selling out airline tickets out of Russia.

The mobilization also sparked a series of protests across Russia, with police detaining hundreds of demonstrators.

The Kremlin said on Friday that Russians’ reaction to the partial mobilization was “hysterical”.

According to human rights lawyers, thousands of Russian reservists were called to join the army but also people who never served in the army and students had been notified.

The Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the reports and said some 10,000 men had voluntarily enlisted following Putin’s announcement.

Peskov added that marksmen, tankers, gunners, drivers and mechanics, as well as other specialists, would be called first and that the 120,000 conscripts who will be called up for compulsory military service in the fall will not take part in the “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Employees of military industry companies, parents of large families, healthcare workers and students will not be mobilized, he added.

The decision of a partial mobilization could lead to an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia has not formally declared war on Ukraine, calling the February 24 invasion a “special military operation” now completing seven months.EFE

mos/mp

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