Grandpa’s Army: Putin raises servicemen retirement age from 65 to 70 years

Putin conscripted an army of grandpa.

Vladimir Putin is working to raise the age limit for army officers to 70 in an attempt to increase Russia’s military might, according to UK military intelligence. If approved, the draft legislation would be the latest push by the Russian president to grow his forces as Moscow’s armies continue to take heavy losses in Ukraine.

‘Russia is proposing a draft legislation to raise the age of military contract personnel, including those that were recruited before June 2023, to age 65 and age 70 for officers,’ a statement released by Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) said today. ‘This would substantially raise the current age limit of 51 for non officers and would likely extend the contract length.’

Russia is believed to currently have around 1.3m military personnel, twice that of Ukraine’s 780,000, although not all are currently fighting Putin’s war. Despite it being unclear exactly how many more troops the age increase will have on the Russian army, the number could be significant – nearly one third of Russia’s 146m population is aged 55 or above.

The MoD says Putin’s plan will be ‘unlikely’ to increase the country’s military capability, however, as increasing an age limit by nature has a gradual, not an immediate effect. It would mean that as the war continues to rage, every day, more aging Russian troops who would have otherwise been retiring from the military will instead be expected to continue fighting, increasing the army’s numbers continuously.

The MOD’s statement continued to say: ‘the pre-war 2021 life expectancy for Russian males was 64.2 years old (according to the World Data Site). Therefore, this measure confers on these service personnel, in effect, a lifetime contact.’ Many Russian soldiers throughout the war have fled, refusing to fight, decreasing military numbers on the Russian side, something the age increase will help mitigate.

Ukraine is also using age-limit scrapping to increase military mobilization on its side. Currently, the country is trying to pass a bill to lower the minimum age civilians can be mobilized from 27 to 25 years. If the bill is passed it will make it harder for civilians to avoid being drafted. In October, Ukraine, which currently has an age limit of 60 for personnel and 65 for officers, wanted to do increase the maximum age limit.

Their idea was to remove the age restriction entirely, freeing up a large number of elderly troops wanting to fight for their country. The potential increase is not the first time that Putin has used age-limit scrapping techniques to boost his military’s size. Back in May 2022, only a few months after Russia’s initial invasion, the age limit of 40-years-old for new recruits was got rid of in an effort to boost numbers.

The MoD says that increasing the maximum age limit will ‘alleviate the need for additional mobilization’. For Putin, it is a way to grow his army without having to enlist civilians. This way the troops will be trained and willing to fight. In the build up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, Moscow massed between 170,000 to 190,000 troops on the border.

However, after reaching the outskirts of Kyiv, Russia suffered a series of embarrassing defeats which saw Putin’s armies pushed back away from the Ukrainian capital and into the east of the besieged country. Kyiv then launched two lightning counteroffensives, pushing Russian forces even further back in both the north and south of the country, roughly to where the frontlines are today. Russia suffered devastating losses of both soldiers and equipment in the opening months of the war, forcing Putin to mobilise reserves – something he had said at the outset of his invasion that he wouldn’t do.

In October 2022, Russia mobilized its 300,000 reserves to help in it’s war efforts. Nine months later, in July 2023, Russia increased the maximum age limit for reservists to be called up to 55 in another push to bolster its numbers . Despite exact figures on military casualties being unclear, due to both Russia and Ukraine giving little away, back in August, the New York Times estimated that approximately 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the conflict and 120,000 Russian soldiers. Ukrainian estimates on Russian losses are far higher.

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