Putin signs law to allow over 40s to join Russian army and fight in Ukraine

  • Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a law allowing Russia to recruit older soldiers.
  • An upper age limit of 40 was removed, leaving no official maximum age for enlistment.
  • This decision follows the increase in the number of victims during the invasion of Ukraine by Russia three months ago.

Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed a law removing the upper age limit for the Russian military, meaning those over 40 can now serve.

The law was passed just over three months after Russia invaded Ukraine, amid heavy Russian casualties that would limit its ability to fight.

The invasion, which Putin and his entourage expected to be quick and decisive, instead proved long and deadly for Russia.

Western authorities believe that some 15,000 Russians were killed. Ukraine claimed on Saturday to have killed 30,000 people, while Russia did not give its own recent figures.

A destroyed tank possibly belonging to Russian/pro-Russian forces lies amid rubble north of the ruined city of Mariupol on March 23, 2022.

A destroyed Russian tank in Mariupol in March.

Maximilian Clarke/Getty Images

The new law has no specific upper age limit, allowing anyone “of normal working age” to fight, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Proposal was passed by Russian lawmakers earlier in the week and Putin’s signature means the measure is now law.

Lawmakers who advocated scrapping the age limit said it would help recruit specialist troops such as doctors and engineers.

British intelligence officials recently said Russia’s losses had caused serious problems for its invasion, now centered on Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region.

Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine.

Ukrainian soldiers on the front line in the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine on May 25.

Diego Herrera Carcedo/Getty Images

In an update, they said personnel issues had forced Russia to rely on mercenaries and irregular forces like militants from Chechnya rather than its main army.

In another, they predicted that commanders would rush troops exhausted in combat after capturing Mariupol without properly resting or re-equipping them, likely leading to more deaths.

Ukraine has long accepted older fighters into its army. As part of its general mobilization at the start of the invasion, the country prohibits all men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving in case they are needed to fight.

After weeks of apparent stagnation in attacks on Donbass, Ukrainian officials have conceded in recent days that Russia is gaining ground.