Fears over “governors’ regional armies,” expressed by a number of observers (here
), nevertheless seem groundless. There is only one such army in the country – in Chechnya, technically part of Rosgvardiya and led by three-star Rosgvardiya General Ramzan Kadyrov. Nothing like this can appear elsewhere.A demonstration of strength for Ukraine and the West
The territorial defense provisions came unexpectedly – on the day of voting on the bill to raise the draft age. Back in December 2022, the Ministry of Defense had proposed shifting it from 18-27 to 21-30, which was the form in which the bill was sent to the Duma by the president and then adopted by the Duma in the first reading.
In preparation for the second reading, however, the bill changed significantly, and, as mentioned above, on July 25 the draft age was not shifted, but expanded. In addition, whereas the changes were initially supposed to be introduced in stages
(in 2024, men 19 to 30 years old were to be called up, then 20 to 30 years old in 2025, and 21 to 30 years old starting in 2026), on July 25 the Duma voted for an immediate setting of the draft age from 18 to 30.
The decision on territorial defense seems to have been a reaction to the series of recent, rather successful attacks by Ukrainian drones against various targets in south and central Russia, including Moscow, as well as to the bombing of the Crimea Bridge and raids by sabotage groups in Bryansk and Belgorod regions.
It was unusual that both heads of the relevant committees in the Federation Council – General Viktor Bondarev and constitutional reform frontman Andrei Klishas – spoke out against
instituting a draft age of 18 to 30 and in favor of bringing back the initial version of the bill, as proposed by the Ministry of Defense and approved by the president. There is no doubt, however, that the abrupt changes to the bill just before the second reading are a Kremlin maneuver.