- The lower house of the Russian parliament has approved a draft law that toughens the punishments for soldiers.
- The law increases the prison sentence for soldiers who leave their posts and adds a reference to “mobilization”.
- The law was approved just a day before President Putin announced a “partial mobilization.”
The lower house of the Russian parliament adopted a law increasing the prison sentence for soldiers who leave their posts or surrender without authorization.
On Tuesday, the State Duma adopted a law increasing the prison sentence for soldiers who desert their unit from five years to up to 10 years. The law needs the approval of Russia’s upper house known as the Federation Council and the signature of President Vladimir Putin – often seen as a formality.
The law was passed just a day before Putin announced plans to “partially mobilize” the country’s military reserve forces, recruiting around 300,000 reservists, according to The Washington Post.
Part of the bill includes amended wording that soldiers will be punished if they leave their unit “during a period of mobilization or state of emergency, as well as during war or while armed conflicts and combat operations are in progress.” according to the translation of Radio Free Europe/Radio Freedom.
A previous version of the law only mentioned time “during armed conflicts or military actions,” Radio Free Europe reported.
Other amendments provide for a prison sentence of up to 10 years if soldiers refuse to go into battle, disobey the commander’s order or surrender to the enemy without authorization.
The bill and the partial mobilization are another sign that Moscow is escalating its war in Ukraine, even as some soldiers express exhaustion from the seven-month invasion.
Just days before Ukrainian forces recaptured the town of Izium, a group of Russian soldiers began writing letters expressing “moral exhaustion” and demanding their commanders leave their posts.
“I refuse to perform my duty in a special operation on the territory of Ukraine due to lack of rest days and moral exhaustion,” one soldier wrote.