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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Putin's New Military Decree To Push Untrained Recruits To The Frontline

As Russia continues to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to mandate training for military reserves, which human rights activists is meant to be used to force new recruits to the frontlines.

Russian men wait in line outside a contract enlistment station in Balashikha near Moscow.

Men wait in line outside a contract enlistment station in Balashikha near Moscow.


Russian President Vladimir Putin has quietly signed a new decree that calls for a special two-month training regiment for all men in the military reserves. In February 2022, Putin signed a similar decree six days before the start of the invasion of Ukraine.

The current document, signed late Wednesday, does not say when the training camps will occur nor how many people will be called. But already, the move may reveal a lot about the state of Russia's military capabilities.

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Reports say an estimated 147,000 more Russians have been called up for military service in 2023 than last year. However, there is no official accounting of how many of those called for duty are professional soldiers and how many are new volunteers.

Russian state news agency TASS reported that the participants of the two-month training would not participate in actual combat. But government critics believe that Putin has called for the new training rules precisely as a way to force more recruits and reserves to the frontline, as Russia has exhausted its stock of professional soldiers, volunteers, and even former prisoners — and is facing difficulties replenishing its troops.

Persuasion and coercion 

Artem Faizulin, a Russian lawyer and human rights activist, told the Russian independent publication Agents.Media that citizens with limited ability to serve can also end up on the frontline following Putin's new decree since the training camps do not fall under regular conscription.

According to Faizulin, one of the risks of participating in these training camps is that the legal status of citizens in the reserves may change: some will receive the officer rank, and those who did not serve will receive military specialization. And in that case, a person may be called into service at the age of 60, rather than 50 as is stipulated for those with a lower rank.

"A person is at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense for two months."

It is thus now possible to send newly called up soldiers to the front directly from the training camps, without any civilian entity there to prevent it, says Dmitry Zakhvatov, another lawyer contesting the decree.

"A person is at the disposal of the Ministry of Defense for two months, and he can be persuaded or coerced to sign a contract at any moment during this time," Fayzulin said.

According to the law, a fine for not attending the training camp is only the equivalent of $40. Lawyers and human rights activists are recommending to Russian citizens to avoid these training camps and military service at all costs. Still, there is a risk that the Kremlin may soon impose stricter penalties.

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In The Shantytowns Of Buenos Aires, Proof That Neighbors Function Better Than Cities

Residents of the most disadvantaged peripheries of the Argentine capital are pushed to collaborate in the absence of municipal support. They build homes and create services that should be public. It is both admirable, and deplorable.

A person with blonde hair stands half hidden behind the brick wall infront of a house

A resident of Villa Palito, La Matanza, stands at their gate. August 21, 2020, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Guillermo Tella


BUENOS AIRES – In Argentina, the increasing urgency of the urban poor's housing and public services needs has starkly revealed an absence of municipal policies, which may even be deliberate.

With urban development, local administrations seem dazzled, or blinded, by the city center's lights. Thus they select and strengthen mechanisms that heighten zonal and social inequalities, forcing the less-well-off to live "on the edge" and "behind" in all senses of these words. Likewise, territorial interventions by social actors have both a symbolic and material impact, particularly on marginal or "frontier" zones that are the focus of viewpoints about living "inside," "outside" or "behind."

The center and the periphery produce very different social perceptions. Living on the periphery is to live "behind," in an inevitable state of marginality. The periphery is a complex system of inequalities in terms of housing provision, infrastructures, facilities and transport.

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