June 10, 2024

Forced to Go Back to War


Forced to Go Back to War
Russian tanks abandoned by the Russian army in the retreat from Izyum. Ukrinform TV, Wikimedia Commons.

Mobilized soldiers who escaped from service are reportedly being held in military units throughout Russia and then being sent back to the front as punishment for desertion. These soldiers are transferred to assault detachments, Verstka reported.

By January 2024, at least 800 mobilized soldiers are reported having fled Russia's War on Ukraine. Those whom military police located were locked up for several months in military units, then they were offered the choice of returning to Ukraine or awaiting trial. None were convicted. 

Approximately 170 were sent from Yekaterinburg to Ukraine at gunpoint. “Forty men with batons come onto the floor, and if you don’t go, they knocked you out and loaded you up unconscious,” one soldier said.

Similar cases occurred in other locations, including Rostov-on-Don, Krasnoyarsk, Moscow, and Moscow Oblast. Among the soldiers forcibly sent back to the front were those who should not be fighting, due to health problems or family situation, such as being a sole breadwinner. Relatives of the mobilized soldiers complained that the military deprived the soldiers of their right to a trial.

The ASTRA news outlet reported that a 48-year-old father of three was forcibly taken to the front, despite his willingness to serve a prison sentence to avoid deployment.

One reason for these actions, according to a lawyer who spoke to Verstka, is Russia's lack of soldiers for the siege of Kharkiv. The Russian army needs at least 300,000 men, sources told Verstka in March. Since the spring conscription, which began April 1, 2024, Ministry of Defense employees have been persuading conscripts, demobilized soldiers, draft dodgers, and reservists to enter into contracts.

Meanwhile, the number of soldiers leaving service without permission is, reportedly, growing. According to calculations by Mediazona, in March 2024 alon, Russian military courts adjudicated 684 cases of unauthorized abandonment of military units.

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