Oct 16, 2022 - World

Russia targeting civilian areas to forcibly enlist men into Ukraine war

A billboard reading "Victory is being Forged in Fire" in central Moscow on October 13,

A billboard reading "Victory Is Being Forged in Fire" in central Moscow on Oct. 13. Photo: Alexander Nemenov/AFP via Getty Images

To aid its effort to mobilize 300,000 conscripts for the war in Ukraine, Russia has turned to press gangs of military and police personnel to descend on civilian spaces and forcibly enlist men into the war, the Washington Post reported.

Driving the news: The press gangs have begun to make the rounds in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, seizing Russians from apartment buildings, metro stops, cafes and business offices.

  • In one such raid, at a construction company's dormitories in Moscow on Thursday, authorities rounded up more than 200 men.
  • Some men of fighting age have also gone into hiding — quitting their jobs, cutting off contact with people, avoiding going outside — to try to avoid conscription, per the Post.

State of play: Russian authorities have shown up at centers for the homeless and hostels that house labor migrants to round up men and take them to enlistment sites, Russian independent news outlet Mediazona reported Tuesday.

  • While Putin announced earlier this month that more than 200,000 people had been conscripted since the start of the mobilization, reports have abounded of ethnic minorities and rural Russians being disproportionally affected compared to ethnic Russians and urban residents, per NBC News.
  • Some 23 Russians even sailed to South Korea in an attempt to evade the draft, having applied for tourist visas. Most were denied entry due to “insufficient documentation and unclear objective," NBC News reported.

The big picture: The announcement of Russian President Vladimir Putin's "partial mobilization" last month was met with backlash, with Russians protesting, attacking military recruiting sites, and even attempting to flee the country to evade conscription.

Go deeper: Dashboard: Russian invasion of Ukraine

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