Russia may ‘raise conscription age’ to bolster army, says UK

A Russian soldier in Kherson   (AP)
A Russian soldier in Kherson (AP)

Russia could be set to increase the upper age limit for conscription in order to bolster army numbers, British defence chiefs have said.

On January 12, Andrey Kartapolov, the head of the Russian State Duma Defence Committee suggested the age of military conscription could be raised from 27 to 30.

In its latest intelligence update, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) says there is a realistic possibility that Russian leaders hope the change will be “less alarming” than announcing another round of the unpopular “partial mobilisation” process.

The MoD said officials hope the move will enable “the previously announced 30 per cent increase in the size of Russia’s forces.”

They added: “Last year, President Putin said he supported such a move, and Russian officials are likely sounding out public reactions.

“There is a realistic possibility that Russian leaders hope a change of age criteria for routine conscription could bolster personnel available to fight in Ukraine while appear less alarming to the population than announcing another round of the unpopular ‘partial mobilisation’ process.”

It comes after Britain announced its intention to donate 14 of its main battle tanks to Ukraine in a "gear change" aimed at breaking the stalemate with Russia.

Confirming the move to Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Rishi Sunak said it was aimed at "delivering rapidly the kind of support which will allow Ukraine to press their advantage, win this war and secure a lasting peace".

The Challenger 2 tanks will be taken from their current deployment in Poland, the Sunday Express understands, and will be joined by 30 AS-90 artillery systems.

Coming six weeks before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it represents a huge strategic shift in Britain’s posture over the war.

Despite a rare Russian victory with the capture of the Ukrainian salt-mine town of Soledar last week, Russian forces reportedly remain heavily demoralised and plagued by supply issues, offering Ukraine a "window of opportunity".