Olga Kovitidi: "Russia needs not only a volunteer professional army, but also an increase in the reserve of young people fit for service.” (file photo)
A member of Russia’s upper house of parliament has called for ending military service exemptions for people with scoliosis and flat feet as the nation pushes forward with an unpopular draft to stem losses in Ukraine.
Olga Kovitidi, who represents Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, said on September 22, a day after the Kremlin announced a “partial” mobilization of reservists, that some afflictions don’t interfere with the ability to serve.
"Now, Russia needs not only a volunteer professional army, but also an increase in the reserve of young people fit for service,” Russian media quoted her as saying.
Russia will call up 300,000 reservists in phases to fight in Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on September 21, a number that some experts said will be very difficult to achieve.
WATCH: Long lines of vehicles have formed at a border crossing between Russia's North Ossetia region and Georgia after Moscow announced a partial military mobilization.
The Kremlin’s decision to mobilize forces for a war that has killed or injured as many as 80,000 of its servicemen has sparked fear and anger among parts of the Russian population.
Thousands of people took to the streets on September 21 to protest mobilization, while others fled to Finland and other countries to avoid being drafted.
Russia’s parliament on September 21 passed amendments in three readings stiffening penalties for dodging service, surrendering, or refusing to fight.
WATCH: More than 1,300 people have been detained in Russia after rare anti-war protests were held around the country in the wake of President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial military mobilization.
Ukrainian forces have routed Russian troops in the Kharkiv region and parts of the Donbas over the past month, capitalizing on the latter’s insufficient manpower.
Russia had avoided calling for a mobilization for months, despite signs it was struggling for fear, it could trigger backlash at home. Rather, the Kremlin sought to incentivize short-term volunteers to serve with the offer of high salaries.
That recruitment campaign failed, indicating weak support among Russian men to serve in the war and forcing the Kremlin to take the politically risky step of declaring mobilization, analysts said.