Russia’s Prosecutor General Igor Krasnov informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that more than 9,000 reservists were illegally mobilized in the war against Ukraine, according to the president’s office.
“Through the efforts of supervision, more than nine thousand citizens who were illegally mobilized were returned home, including those who, due to their health, should not have been mobilized in any way,” Krasnov said in a meeting with Putin, the transcript of which was shared on Tuesday.
The mobilization has been “a lesson for many,” Krasnov added, noting that the military has to reorganize its databases and organization of military records to address the shortcomings. There have also been problems with paying troops, Krasnov said.
“Mobilization has not been carried out for a long time—it revealed a lot of significant problems,” Krasnov said.
The update on the internal chaos comes after months of Russia’s military floundering and working to round up Russian men to go to the war in Ukraine with little preparation. In an attempt to flood the field with more personnel approximately seven months into the war last fall, Putin announced a “partial mobilization,” calling up 300,000 reservists to go to Ukraine.
Some were sent with little to no training after being mobilized. Reports of men being sent even when they had medical issues or were elderly have emerged in recent months. For example, in the Volgograd region, a 63-year-old pensioner with diabetes and a brain condition was called up, according to Baza. Video footage emerged last summer showing elderly Russians preparing for war, too.
Putin reportedly suggested in a meeting with members of the Security Council last year that only healthy men should be called up to Ukraine.
“Fathers with many children, or people suffering from chronic diseases, or who have already passed the military age,” should be entitled to deferment, Putin said last fall, according to RIA.
Krasnov and Putin also discussed the problems that Russia has had in providing uniforms, bulletproof vests, and winter gear to properly prepare Russian troops for war in Ukraine.
“We continue to deal with the issues of providing mobilized servicemen with bulletproof vests and other uniforms,” Krasnov said. “Most of the problems have already been resolved. Now we control the supply of winter uniforms to mobilized servicemen, as well as the formation of appropriate warehouses and their safety.”
Putin responded to Krasnov’s report that there are “questions” about “ensuring the defense capability of the state” moving forward.
Even with a track record of failings in the mobilization, Putin is working through ways to round up more Russian troops to go to Ukraine, without prompting more domestic resistance, according to a British government intelligence report released early this week. In some cases, Russian borders guards have reportedly begun preventing migrant workers that are naturalized citizens or that maintain Russian passports from leaving the country since they may be able to fight for the country.
“The Russian leadership highly likely continues to search for ways to meet the high number of personnel required to resource any future major offensive in Ukraine, while minimizing domestic dissent,” the intelligence brief said.
Western officials have been suggesting for weeks that Russia may be plotting a new offensive against Ukraine in the new year. British intelligence assesses that Russian authorities are likely keeping the option of more mobilization under the earlier “partial mobilization” to provide more manpower in the invasion in Ukraine.
A satellite imagery analysis provided exclusively to The Daily Beast last week shows that Russia is building up fortifications that may help them launch an offensive while maintaining what little gains they have made in Eastern Ukraine as well.