Media reports say Russia’s lower house (State Duma) of parliament has passed a bill gradually raising the age of conscription into Russia’s army in first reading. 

The State Duma passed a bill gradually raising the draft age in 2026 to 21 years of age from the current 18 years of age in the first reading on April 14.  The upper end of the draft age requirement will also increase, to 30 years of age from the current 27.

 The bill was submitted for consideration to the State Duma in March this year.   TASS says the initiative was introduced by a group of lawmakers led by the Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Defense Andrey Kartapolov.

Under the initiative, the conscription age will be 19 to 30 years in 2024, 20 to 30 years in 2025 and 21 to 30 years in 2026.  Meanwhile, people will still be able to volunteer for conscription starting at the age of 18.

The bill also provides an option for people aged between 27 and 30, who failed to complete their military service without any legal grounds, to volunteer for conscription in order to remove any restrictions placed on them for state or municipal employment.

Recall, the changes were first announced by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in December last year.  Shoigu announced reforms to the Russian army at last year’s final Defense Ministry Board meeting on December 21, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin.

Speaking at the meeting, Shoigu reportedly noted that two strategic territorial formations, the Moscow and Leningrad Military Districts, need to be re-established in the Russian Armed Forces.

The Russian defense minister also pointed to the need to improve the structure of military branches of the Russian Armed Forces and raise responsibility of operational military commands for training and employing large units and armies.

Shoigu reportedly proposed setting up ten new divisions: five artillery, two air assault and three motorized infantry formations (with two of the latter to be stationed in the Zaporozhye and Kherson oblasts).

Several of Shoigu’s points are devoted to increase in the army’s size.

Meduza noted at the time that the maximum number of service members in the army (contract soldiers, conscripts, and those who have been mobilized) will be increased from 1.15 to 1.5 million.

The number of contract soldiers should rise by 290,000 — to a total of 695,000.  The plan is that, by the end of 2022, the Russian army will have 521,000 contract soldiers, and that they will, according to Shoigu, partially replace draftees (though he did not specify how this replacement will work).

A decision was made to create five new motorized rifle and air assault divisions and an army corps, as well as to deploy more than 10 brigades per division.  Several new aviation regiments and brigades, and five new artillery divisions, are also planned.

Apart from that, it was proposed to gradually change the age for conscription.  It was noted that people will be conscripted starting at age 21, not 18, like now, but the upper age limit for conscription will be 30, instead of the current 27.