Putin’s new plan for Ukraine: Using retired soliders? In an intelligence update shared on Sunday, the United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence claimed that Russia is planning to use recently retired soldiers to assist with the continued invasion of Ukraine after NATO intelligence officials predicted that as many as 40,000 Russian soldiers have been killed, captured, or wounded since the beginning of the war.
“In response to mounting losses, the Russian armed forces seek to bolster troop numbers with personnel discharged from military service since 2012,” the intelligence update reads.
“Efforts to generate more fighting power also include trying to recruit from the unrecognized Transnistria region of Moldova,” the Ministry of Defence added.
How Old Are the Retired Soldiers?
Recently retired soldiers in Russia could be more than 60 years old. Article 49 of Federal Law 64, implemented on April 2, 2014, sets out age provisions for Russian military personnel. Under the law, vice admirals and major generals must be under 60 years old, colonels and captains of the 1st rank under 55 years old, and lieutenants in military rank under 50 years old.
Soldiers in other army ranks must be younger than 50 years old.
The law does, however, provide for new contracts to be agreed with marshals, generals, admirals, and colonel generals who are in good health and willing to continue serving.
While not all soldiers dismissed from the military in 2012 left at retirement age, recruitment of soldiers who retired since 2012 could mean that some soldiers exceed the age of 60 by several years and may not be entirely fit to fight.
Are the Soldiers Prepared?
In response to the news, Francis Farrell, editor of news and culture website Lossi 36, suggested that Russia may be working to create the illusion of a military presence in Ukraine by deploying soldiers from the Transnistria region of Moldova who does not have sufficient military experience.
Farrell noted that under the leadership of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine allowed the transit of Russian troops into Transnistria – but since 2014, the year the Crimean peninsula was annexed by Russia, there has been no access for Russian troops to replenish the soldiers and recruits have since been drawn from the local population, most of whom are Russian citizens.
“These soldiers have no military or wartime experience, and as put by Serhiy Sydnorenko at European Pravda, make up a Potemkin village-like army, intended to fill quotas and keep up the image of a military presence,” Farrell writes.
If that’s the case, British intelligence may have just revealed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s plans to use ill-equipped and unprepared soldiers to maintain the illusion of Russian military dominance as its army attempts to take full control of the Donbas region of Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.