Russian lawmakers have passed a bill that removes age limits for professional soldiers joining the military and could be a way for the Russian armed forces to expand recruitment.
The lower house of the Russian parliament passes the bill in all three readings to scrap an age limit of 40 for Russians signing their first voluntary military contracts.
The chair of the parliament’s defense committee, Andrei Kartapolov, says the measure would make it easier to hire people with “in-demand specialisms.” A description of the bill on the parliament website indicates older recruits could be suited to operating precision weapons or serving in engineering or medical roles.
Russian authorities have said that only volunteer contract soldiers are being sent to fight in Ukraine, though they have acknowledged that some conscripts were drawn into the fighting by mistake in the early stages.
In recent years, the Russian military has increasingly relied on volunteers. All Russian men aged 18-27 must undergo one-year compulsory military service. Many avoid the draft through college deferments and other exemptions.