“It makes you nervous and scared – no one wants to all of a sudden end up in a war with a rifle in their hands,” said the resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he feared reprisal. “The special operation is somewhat dragging on, so any surprises from the Russian authorities can be expected.”
It has been more than a week since he handed in his card, he said, and exemptions usually get resolved in a day or two, heightening his anxiety.
Russian media report that men across the country are receiving summonses from enlistment offices. In most of those cases, men were simply asked to update their records; in others, they were ordered to take part in military training.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said last week that serving summonses to update records in enlistment offices is “usual practice” and a “continued undertaking”.
Other unconfirmed media reports say authorities have told regional governments to recruit a certain number of volunteers. Some officials announced setting up recruitment centres with the goal of getting men to sign contracts that enable them to be sent into combat as professional soldiers.
Ads have appeared on government websites and on the social media accounts of state institutions and organisations, including libraries and high schools.
One of them, posted by a municipal administration in the western Yaroslavl region, promised a one-time bonus of about US$3,800 to sign up, and if sent to Ukraine, a monthly salary of up to US$2,500, plus about US$100 a day for “involvement in active offensive operations”, and US$650 “for each kilometre of advancement within assault teams”.
The ad said the soldier would also get tax and loan repayment breaks, preferential university admission status for his children, generous compensation for his family if he is wounded or killed in action, and the status of a war veteran, which carries even more perks.
In the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, officials asked universities, colleges and vocational schools to advertise for recruits on their websites, said Sergei Chernyshov, founder of a private vocational school there.
Chernyshov posted the ad on his social media account “so that everyone knows what our city hall is up to”, but he told the AP that he doesn’t plan to put it on the school website. “It’s weird” to target vocational school students, he said.
Other efforts include enlistment officials meeting with college students and unemployed men, or phoning men to volunteer.