Struggling in Ukraine, Russia paves way to sign up over-40s for army

Western military analysts claim this move is because Russia has suffered heavy losses in Ukraine. PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (REUTERS) - In a sign of Russia's urgent need to bolster its war effort in Ukraine, Parliament said on Friday (May 20) it would consider a Bill to allow Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 to sign up for the military.

The website of the State Duma, Parliament's lower house, said the move would enable the military to utilise the skills of older professionals.

"For the use of high-precision weapons, the operation of weapons and military equipment, highly professional specialists are needed. Experience shows that they become such by the age of 40-45," it said.

Currently only Russians aged 18-40 and foreigners aged 18-30 could enter into a first contract with the military.

Russia has suffered huge setbacks and heavy losses of men and equipment in the 86-day-old war, prompting Western military analysts to say it urgently needs to mobilise more soldiers.

“Clearly, the Russians are in trouble. This is the latest attempt to address manpower shortages without alarming their own population. But it is growing increasingly difficult for the Kremlin to disguise their failures in Ukraine,” said retired US General Ben Hodges, a former commander of US Army forces in Europe.

Jack Watling, a land warfare specialist at the British security and defence think tank RUSI, said the Russian military was running short of infantry.

“Russia needs to stabilise manning in its military units in Ukraine and generate new units if it is to improve its position on the ground,” he said.

“This will be a slow and complicated process, but can be accelerated by mobilising people with existing skills and military experience.”

The Duma said the planned initiative would also make it easier to recruit civilian medics, engineers and operations and communications specialists.

Separately, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Friday that Russia was forming 12 military units in its western military district in response to rising threats there, citing Nato membership bids by Finland and Sweden.

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