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Arsonists target Russian military conscription centers as officials look to fill gaps in battered combat units

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A Russian serviceman sprays disinfectant at the yard of the recruitment center, St. Petersburg, on May 20, 2020.
A Russian serviceman sprays disinfectant at the yard of the recruitment center, St. Petersburg, on May 20, 2020.Photo by Sergey Nikolaev/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • Arsonists are reportedly targeting Russian military conscription centers with Molotov cocktails.

  • In the last week there have been five cases of arson, a Ukrainian official said on Thursday.

  • Russia's military is reliant on conscripts and admitted to sending them to fight in Ukraine.

Arsonists are reportedly targeting Russian military conscription centers with Molotov cocktails and trying to set the offices ablaze, as officials seek to fill the gaps in battered combat units fighting against Ukrainian forces.

In the last week there have been five cases of suspected arson at Russian "military registration and enlistment offices," Ukrainian Brigadier General Oleksii Gromov said on Thursday — and at least a dozen total cases since President Vladimir Putin's forces invaded on February 24.

According to the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) these attacks are "likely in protest of covert mobilization," citing Russian media and local Telegram channels.

It's not yet clear who is responsible for the string of attacks.

Russia's military is generally reliant on conscripts — men aged 18 through 27 who typically serve for one year and are drafted semi-annually — in both active-duty and reserve forces, according to the ISW.

Of the 1.2 million military-aged men in Russia's annual conscription pool, "only about half are compelled to present themselves at their local military commissariat," the ISW said.

Russia has previously admitted to sending young conscripts to fight in Ukraine, after Putin initially denied their involvement. Many are reportedly ill-equipped and poorly trained, and unaware of their purpose in the war.

Russian forces have suffered heavy losses in Ukraine — bogged down by a litany of communication, tactical, and morale issues.

It's not exactly clear how many of Putin's troops have been killed. Ukraine has pegged the death toll at upwards of 20,000, though the West said the figure is likely lower than that.

The Kremlin has admitted to suffering "significant losses" on the battlefield, but its count of its war dead in late March was far below Western estimates and has refused to provide more death tolls as Russian leaders have continued the invasion.

Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.

Read the original article on Business Insider