Russia’s Duma, their parliament, approved a new law on Wednesday in rapid speed which removes the upper age limit for contractual service in the military, amid reportedly heavy casualties in Ukraine. Currently, only Russians aged 18–40 and foreigners aged 18–30 can enlist as professional soldiers in the Russian military. Russia is presenting this new legislature as a move to recruit more technical specialists. The new laws says such specialists are required to operate high-precision weapons and “experience shows that they come such by the age of 40-45″. Medics, engineers, and communications experts may also be recruited due to this as well.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on March 25 that 1,351 Russian service personnel had been killed and 3,825 wounded since Moscow sent its armed forces into Ukraine on Feb. 24. It has not updated its casualty figures since. Ukrainian and Western military experts estimate Russia has suffered very heavy losses, around 30,000 killed, while the UK government estimates the toll at around half that, at 15,000. For comparison, during the entire 9-year Soviet-Afghan War in the 1980s, Soviet losses totalled between 14,000–15,000.
Lawmakers in the State Duma’s lower house approved the bill in three readings in a single session, with the upper house, the Federation Council, giving its assent shortly after. The bill now needs only the signature of President Vladimir Putin to become law. State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said: “Today, especially, we need to strengthen the armed forces and help the Ministry of Defence. Our Supreme Commander is doing everything to ensure that our armed forces win, and we need to help.“