In Russia, the next spring military conscription began. From April 1 to July 15, 2024, the occupying army plans to conscript 150,000 citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 for military service.

This year's draft is part of Russia's general mobilization, says military expert Oleksiy Melnyk from the Razumkov Center.

For Ukraine, this is one of the markers that Russian dictator Vladimir Putin plans to continue large-scale war and the tried-and-true tactic of meat-grinder attacks, says military analyst and founder of BO Reactive Post, Pavlo Narozhny.

What risks the Russian conscripts may pose for Ukraine and when to expect their appearance on the battlefield – in brief.

WHAT HAPPENED. On March 31, Putin signed a decree on the spring conscription of 150,000 people. For the first time, men between the ages of 18 and 30 (the upper age limit has been raised from 27 to 30 as of January 1, 2024) will be subject to conscription.

Russia also announced an illegal conscription in the occupied territories of Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.

Conscription in occupied territory is a war crime. The Geneva Convention prohibits occupiers from forcing civilians in occupied territory to serve in occupying armed forces or auxiliary forces. It also prohibits occupiers from exerting pressure or encouraging voluntary enlistment.

In particular, the occupiers plan to recruit men born between 1994 and 2006 into their army on the occupied territory of the Luhansk Oblast, as reported by the head of the Luhansk Regional Military Administration, Artem Lisohor.

On the territory of occupied Crimea, Ukrainians will be forced to serve under the threat of criminal prosecution, warns the representation of the President of Ukraine: "There are already 520 known cases, of which 206 – that is, 40% – after February 24, 2022."

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT. The military leadership of the aggressor country promises that Russian conscripts will not be sent to the occupied territories of Ukraine and will not participate in hostilities.

However, there is a certain element of intrigue as to whether these 150,000 occupiers will end up on the territory of Ukraine specifically in the status of conscripts, where they will serve, says military-political reviewer of the Information Resistance group, Oleksandr Kovalenko.

"In the raped Russian Constitution, it is written that both the Crimean Peninsula and the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts are allegedly the Russian Federation," he says. "Russia can quite use this and send them to serve on the occupied Ukrainian territories."

In the zone of hostilities, conscripts will most likely not appear immediately – they must spend at least three months in the places of deployment of military units for basic training, he says.

Given the experience of previous scandalous situations – when, contrary to promises, conscripts appeared in the zone of hostilities – it is most likely that conscripts will first be persuaded to sign a contract, the military expert says.

Фото: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA
Photo: Maxim Shipenkov / EPA

Changes made to Russian laws that allow a contract to be concluded after a month of service can quickly turn this year's conscripts into contract soldiers, says Melnyk.

"It cannot be said with certainty that all 150,000 will be immediately involved in the war, but a significant number will replenish the ranks of combat units," he says. "Different methods are applied to contract soldiers – from promises to intimidation and deception."

Those who do not sign the contract can be sent to the border regions of the Belgorod, Bryansk, and Kursk oblasts. This will free some of the contract soldiers, who will also be transferred from the border to the zone of hostilities, says the analyst of the Razumkov Center.

Therefore, this draft should be viewed as part of a general mobilization.

Putin announced mobilization in September 2022, reminds Melnyk. And it continues. But taking into account previous experience, it is being conducted not on such a scale but in a more covert manner.

"It is carried out mainly through an increase in material incentives, through administrative methods of coercion," he says. "This gives, according to various estimates, from 20,000 to 30,000 recruits per month."

Фото: Arkady Budnitsky / EPA
Photo: Arkady Budnitsky / EPA

WHAT'S NEXT. Any increase in the Russian army is a potential threat to Ukraine, says Narozhny.

"The Russians at the front continue to conduct infantry attacks in small groups. We are not seeing massive use of equipment," he says. "Putin's entire tactic is based on large human casualties. Therefore, large-scale conscription is one of the signs that Putin will continue to fight with the same tactics."

It is safe to say that Russia is preparing for an offensive, Melnyk said. But most likely it is an offensive in one of the operational directions. The ISW warns of this.

"It is unlikely that Russia will be able to launch a large-scale offensive along the entire front. But most likely, there will be such an attempt to break through on one of the sections," says the expert from the Razumkov Center.

The offensive can only take place on the line of contact, where active hostilities are now taking place, Narozhny says. For the Russians, attacking through the Sumy or Kharkiv oblasts or Belarus would mean extending the front line and creating huge logistical problems.

"The first most likely direction is Kupyansk-Lyman, which will allow the Russians to significantly improve rail logistics for supplying the group in the Bakhmut area," the military analyst says. "Or Vuhledar, to secure the Azov coast for themselves and shorten the front line."

But this will require a shock group, the preparation for which will be obvious, says Melnyk: "There will have to be an abnormal concentration of human resources and equipment. It will not go unnoticed.