- Putin announced that some Russians would be forced to fight in the ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
- The new decree is supposed to only only affect those with prior military training.
- Reports suggest this is being ignored in a scramble to reinforce the Russian war effort.
Russia is drafting up obviously unsuitable candidates in a scramble to bulk up its army in Ukraine, according to multiple reports.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial military mobilization on Wednesday, pledging to call up 300,000 people, but only from Russia's existing pool of military reservists.
Conscripts and students would not be drafted and the new decree would affect only those with previous combat experience, Russian officials added.
However, evidence is emerging that these standards are being ignored in practice.
A 26-year-old PhD student and lecturer at a prominent Russian university told the BBC this week that two men turned up at his house to draft him, despite his student status.
The student, identified only as Sergei, told the BBC he was confused by the call-up because he has no military experience.
A 63-year-old man from the Volgograd region was also drafted as part of the mobilization, the independent Russian news site The Insider reported. (The outlet has no relation to Insider.)
The man, identified only as Yermolaev, has second-degree diabetes and a brain condition known as cerebral ischemia, The Insider reported. Yermolaev had previously served in the army is retired.
On Thursday, he was still summoned to a medical examination center where he was told by doctors that he was "fit to go to the front," The Insider reported.
Insider was unable to independently verify the accounts.
"People say a lot of men are being taken away, regardless of the criteria"
While Russian officials have promised that only those with military experience would be called up, a clause in Putin's mobilization decree means that it is possible to ignore that norm at any time, experts said.
One man from Buryatia, a mountainous region in eastern Siberia, told The Insider that recruitment officers are "combing through the villages."
"People say a lot of men are being taken away, regardless of the criteria. There are 400 people in our village, and they took 20 men," the man, who was not named, told The Insider.
A video shared on social media showed one such recruitment drive in an unnamed location in Russia. In it, a recruiting officer yells at a room full of men that they now belong to the military, and will be sent to fight after only two weeks of training.
—Patrick Reevell (@Reevellp) September 23, 2022
A BBC reporter tweeted on Friday that a 17-year-old boy was conscripted after being arrested at an anti-war protest in Moscow, and shared a document saying so. The minimum age to be drafted into the Russian army is 18 .
Russia's conscription obliges men aged 18 to 27 to serve one year in the military.
"President Putin's call to partially mobilize Russian citizens, directing them to fight in Ukraine, reflects the Kremlin's struggles on the battlefield, the unpopularity of the war, and Russians' unwillingness to fight in it," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
"President Putin is not operating from a position of strength; rather, this is another sign of his failing mission."