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Russia has sent around 10,000 immigrants who recently received citizenship to join military fighting in Ukraine, official says

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk June 27, 2024 11:57 AM 2 min read
Russian soldiers take part in a parade for Victory Day in Moscow's Red Square on May 9, 2023. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Russia has sent around 10,000 immigrants who recently received citizenship to join the military fighting in Ukraine, said Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin at a press conference on June 27.

The individuals are reportedly in Ukraine to "dig trenches and build fortifications," Bastrykin said, implying they might not be directly involved in combat operations.

The 10,000 individuals are out of 30,000 new citizens authorities have reportedly "caught" who shirked their obligation to register for military service, he added.  

In October 2023, Bastrykin suggested that individuals who recently received Russian passports but declined to serve in the military could have their citizenship revoked.    

Military service is mandatory in Russia for all men aged 18-27, although Russia has vastly widened the scope of who it seeks to see in the military after huge losses suffered in its war against Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on March 31 to conscript 150,000 citizens as part of the regularly occurring spring conscription campaign, but conscripts are not officially allowed to be sent to fight abroad.

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Russia has sought to replenish its military ranks through other means, including the recruitment of migrants and new Russian citizens, likely hoping to avoid changing the rules on conscript deployment or a repeat of the unpopular mobilization drive in the fall of 2022.

Migrant workers have also been sent to occupied parts of Ukraine ostensibly for construction work. However, after they arrive, reports allege that their passports are confiscated, and they are pressured to go fight.

Russia has also attempted to recruit foreigners directly from countries in the surrounding region, such as Kazakhstan or Armenia.

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Using online data from military courts, Mediazona documented 10,025 such cases since September 2022 when the Kremlin announced a first wave of mobilization.

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