Vladimir Putin’s decision to increase the age limit for military recruits to 70 in some cases “smacks of desperation”, a former British Army officer has said.
The MoD has said given the pre-war 2021 life expectancy for Russian males was 64.2, the move “confers on these service personnel, in effect, a lifetime contract”.
But Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Crawford has also warned against writing old soldiers off, pointing out that they are still capable of guiding drones, manning communications centres, and staffing headquarters.
Lt Col Crawford was commenting after the Ministry of Defence revealed that Russia was proposing draft legislation which would raise the age of military contract personnel, including those recruited before June 2023, to 65, and 70 in the case of officers.
He said: “Raising the age cohort so dramatically does smack of desperation a bit, but I don’t think you’ll find many of that age in the trenches!”
He added: “But old military folk like me are perfectly capable of guiding drones, or manning comms centres, or staffing HQs, and many will bring a wealth of experience and maturity with them.
“So, not to be written off as a totally crazy idea. We can all play a part. Just look at the Home Guard (Dad’s Army) in 1940.”
Lt Col Crawford stressed he was not advocating Defence Secretary Grant Shapps adopting a similar approach although he added: “There is some discussion about whether making non-commissioned officers retire at 40 is wise given the experience they have accumulated. (Commissioned officers retire at 55).”
He concluded “And the Russians do have a different attitude. We in the West are very casualty conscious, but they tend to regard soldiers more as capital to be expended at a profit. Not absolutely, but there’s a clear difference in attitude.”
The MoD’s statement, posted via its Defence HQ page on X, formerly Twitter, said of the move: “This would substantially raise the current age limit of 51 for non-officers and would likely extend the contract length.”
The MoD pointed out: “The pre-war 2021 life expectancy for Russian males was 64.2 according to the World Data website.
“Therefore this measure confers on these service personnel, in effect, a lifetime contract.
“Although this measure would likely alleviate the need for additional mobilisation, increasing the number of military personnel aged over 51 is highly unlikely to increase Russia‘s combat effectiveness, particularly in kinetic assaults.”
Russia yesterday accused the West of sabotaging agreements which would have prevented the war in Ukraine – but the the US and its allies put the blame squarely on Moscow, saying there is no escaping that President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of its smaller neighbour.
Days before the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, Russia’s UN Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia again put the cause of the war down to the failure to implement the 2015 Minsk agreements, which he blamed on “Kyiv’s sabotage” supported by the West.
The agreements aimed to resolve the conflict between Ukraine and Russia-backed separatists that flared in April 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its support for the separatists in the mostly Russian-speaking industrial east called Donbas.
At the Security Council meeting which Russia called on the seventh anniversary of the signing of the Minsk peace plan brokered by France and Germany, Nebenzia called claims by Ukraine and Western nations that Russia refused to implement the agreements “absolutely baseless”.
The Senate has passed a £75.6 ($95.3) billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after almost a week of debate and growing political divisions in the Republican Party over the role of the United States abroad.