Putin could draft over 40million reservists as 'fear and panic' grip Russians

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    Vladimir Putin has a pool of over 40million army reservists he could call up, according to data analysed by the Express. This could potentially allow the Kremlin to assemble a massive army that would pose a serious threat to NATO countries bordering Russia. The Russian President sent shockwaves through his country after announcing a “partial” draft of military reservists last week.

    The call-up was the first mobilisation since World War 2 and will see an initial 300,000 men enlisted into the army.

    In a nationwide TV address, Putin told Russians that the additional manpower was needed to win a war not only against Ukraine but also its NATO backers.

    Later Russia’s Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu said that Russia had 25million potential fighters at its disposal.

    However, it appears the actual figure is much higher and almost double that given by Shoigu.

    A majority of Russian men are part of the army reserve irrespective of whether they have any military experience and are legally eligible for the draft.

    A political source told Express.co.uk: “I am in the reserve, like almost all men aged 18-60.

    “I didn’t serve in the army, but in Russia that is not a necessary precondition to be part of the reserve.”

    Data provided by the website statista.com show that the number of men aged between 15 and 59 in Russia as of January 1st 2022 totals 42.19million.

    The Defence Minister assured the nation that the state would only enlist those with previous military experience and that students would be exempt from the draft.

    Russians, though, have long since learnt to place little faith in the promises of their leaders.

    Within days of Shoigu’s assurances, reports emerged of students at a university in the eastern Siberian city of Ulan-Ude being taken from their classes and forcibly drafted into the army.

    The Kremlin’s indiscriminate mobilisation has spread terror among those eligible for the draft and their families.

    READ MORE: Putin removal ‘inevitable’ as mobilisation will destroy entire system

    It has also led to sporadic protests throughout Russia, with thousands being arrested by police.

    A Russian businesswoman told Express.co.uk that she was “in fear and panic” about the fate that could await her only son, who is in his thirties. She had no faith that protests would lead to any real change in the situation.

    Instead, she said she would attempt to use her connections within the local administration to try and get a reprieve for her son.

    Others the Express has spoken to have decided to join the exodus of those fleeing the country.

    Many Russian men have sought to escape via plane or car. Popular destinations include Turkey, Finland, Georgia, Kazakhstan and even Mongolia.

    A young couple from near Saint Petersburg last week headed to Finland with a group of friends.

    They left behind their home and a business that supplies building materials to construction companies.

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    The couple said they had to wait eight hours to cross into Finland from Russia. Their plan was to head to Italy and from there get a flight to Asia.

    An anti-war campaigner urged Russians to ignore their military summons and to refuse to join Putin’s army.

    Daniil Chebykin, the founder of the Omsk Civil Association, told Express.co.uk: “If you have received your summons – do not go to the army recruitment centre.

    “The consequences are just a fine of 3,000 rubles (£49). Your life is worth a lot more.”

    He added: “If you have already been assessed by the medical commission and end up on the front line, then refuse to fight or surrender.

    “Better that than being killed.”



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