Russian soldiers who refuse to fight in Ukraine will be sentenced to 10 years in prison under a new law signed on Saturday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin launched Ukraine’s “special military operation” on February 24, and Kremlin leaders hoped for a quick victory. However, Russian troops faced a stronger than expected reaction from its Eastern European neighbor. Putin’s army faced many problems, including problems with recruiting motivated soldiers, which in recent weeks has allowed Ukraine to launch a counter-offensive to regain occupied territory.

Putin announced on Wednesday that Russia will undergo a partial mobilization in which reserves will be called to fight in Ukraine as losses of troops and equipment accumulate. The announcement is seen as an escalation of the conflict, but has been met with protests in more than 38 cities in Russia – a rare indicator of increasing frustration with war among the country’s citizens. Mobilization could result in the drafting of 300,000 reservists.

Despite some dissatisfaction with partial mobilization, refusing to participate in the war is now punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Moscow times, russian newspaper in english.

Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen in Moscow on Tuesday. Putin signed a law on Saturday that could result in 10-year sentences for soldiers refusing to participate in the conflict in Ukraine.
Co-creator / Getty Images

According to the newspaper, the law stipulates that desertion from military posts during mobilization may be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Meanwhile, any soldier who voluntarily surrenders will be sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to Times. An exception may be made for first-time offenders who “have taken steps to release, have returned to their unit or place of service, and have committed no other offenses in captivity.”

Plunder could also result in a sentence of 15 years in prison, the newspaper reported.

The law passed the Duma, the Russian parliament, last week before Putin’s mobilization was announced, and received the support of all major parties. Times.

Russian mobilization sees early resistance

Despite a new Russian law that could send reservists who refused to fight to prison, the announcement that the Russian leader would mobilize was met with resistance. Opposition is not common in Russia, as the Kremlin cracked down on the rebellion after the declaration of war.

As a result of the protests, at least 1,386 people were arrested. Meanwhile, the internet petition against mobilization received over 327,000 signatures.

“In the current context of uncertainty, we are not prepared to expose our country’s men – brothers, sons, husbands, fathers and grandparents – to moral or physical danger,” the petition reads.

Military experts doubt that mobilization will help Russia

Military experts also expressed doubts that Putin’s mobilization would provide a significant boost to a country that has been struggling with the problems of maintaining skilled soldiers for months.

The Institute for War Studies (ISW) said Saturday the mobilization would no longer produce more troops and “probably would not produce even the low-quality mobilized reserve forces that Putin’s plans would generate, unless the Kremlin quickly fixes basic and systemic problems.”

Movies have emerged that seem to show reservist soldiers behaving in a disordered manner. One of the films showed a group of drunk and sleeping soldiers at a stop on their way to the front line. Meanwhile, another film showed soldiers refusing to form ranks when instructed to do so.

Pentagon Press Secretary Air Force Brigadier General Pat Ryder said adding 300,000 troops to an already fighting invasion might not give Moscow the impetus it needs to turn the tide of the war.

“If you already have serious challenges and haven’t solved some of those systemic strategic problems that make any major military force capable, there is no indication that it will be easier if you add more variables to the equation,” said Ryder.

The mobilization comes after Ukraine reclaimed more than 3,000 square miles through a counteroffensive in Kherson, a key city in the south that serves as a gateway to Russia’s annexed Crimea, and areas near Kharkiv, a major city in eastern Ukraine.

Newsweek contacted the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for comment.

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