Sep 26, 2022 - World

Russian military recruitment offices come under attack after draft order

Police officers detain a man in Moscow

Police detain a man in Moscow on Sept. 24 during a protest against the mobilization announced by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Multiple military recruitment offices in Russia have been attacked in the days since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilization" of an estimated 300,000 Russian citizens for the country's war in Ukraine.

Driving the news: Local officials said a 25-year-old gunman opened fire at a military draft office in Ust-Ilimsk, Siberia, on Monday, critically wounding the office's commander, Reuters reported.

  • The shooter, currently in custody, was reportedly upset that his close friend had received a draft summons despite a lack of military experience.
  • The suspected assailant, Ruslan Zinin, "was very upset because of this, because his friend did not serve in the army," Zinin's mother, Marina Zinina, told a local news outlet, according to the New York Times. "They said that there would be partial mobilization, but it turns out that they are taking everyone."
  • In a separate incident, a man rammed a car into the entrance of a military recruiting center in the southern town of Uryupinsk early Monday morning and began throwing Molotov cocktails at the center, setting it on fire, the Wall Street Journal reported.

State of play: There have been 17 attacks on military recruitment centers and administrative buildings since the mobilization's announcement on Wednesday, and 54 such attacks since the start of the war in February, according to Russian independent news outlet Mediazona.

  • The announcement of the draft sparked protests in dozens of cities, and as of Sunday police had arrested 2,355 protesters, according to OVD-Info, a Russia-based human rights organization that monitors political persecution in the country.
  • In announcing the draft, Putin claimed that only people already registered in the military reserves and with relevant prior experience would be called up. But Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov acknowledged on Monday that some errors have been made in calling up individuals who should be exempt from the order.
  • "There are cases when the decree is violated — in some regions governors are actively working to correct the situation," Peskov told reporters on a call, the Times reported.

The big picture: The mobilization announcement prompted a flood of Russians to attempt to reach the country's borders to flee conscription, resulting in long lines at crossings.

  • Meanwhile, a number of Russia's neighbors have moved to close their borders to Russians attempting to evade the draft.
  • Putin on Saturday signed new legislation that could punish men that refuse to join the army, desert or surrender with up to 10 years in prison, per the Journal.
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