I’m abroad staying with friends… but I may never return to Russia

For men across Russia, the war in Ukraine felt like a world away, safe in the knowledge it would be left to the professionals. On Wednesday that all changed as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the partial mobilisation of 300,000 reservists. 

While Russia’s defence minister said the call will apply to those who have served, have combat experience or have special military skills, Putin’s order was vague, prompting fears it will be open to interpretation. Aleksandr G, a Russian Army reservist, speaks to The Telegraph anonymously due to safety concerns:

On Tuesday I went to bed late. Like many other Russians that night, I was waiting for Vladimir Putin’s delayed address, where he was set to announce mobilisation.

The news catches me while I’m abroad. I had been planning to stay with friends for a couple of days but now it seems it was a one-way trip. I try to drive away the thought that I will not return to Russia.

Like most men in Russia, I have a military rank. I’m a sergeant and an army reservist. We have compulsory military service – you are required to serve for a year after turning 18. You can reduce this to just a month if you join the military training centre at university. This is how I got my rank.

In theory as a military centre graduate, I am a reservist of the second category. This means that during a mobilisation I should be called not with the first, but with the second wave of recruits. 

But the decree on mobilisation issued on Wednesday is formulated in such a way that everyone could be called up. The seventh paragraph of the decree – concerning the numbers to be mobilised – is classified. The government says that 300,000 bayonets need to be assembled. I don’t believe them.

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