President Vladimir V. Putin on Thursday acknowledged “mistakes” in the Russian government’s implementation of his draft, a sign that the Kremlin is trying to contain public discontent over Putin’s efforts to escalate the war in Ukraine keep.
In televised addresses to senior security officials, Mr Putin said the draft raised “many questions” and that “all errors must be corrected and prevented in the future”. He described cases in which those entitled to deferral were wrongly conscripted, such as fathers of three or more children, men with chronic illnesses or people of military age.
“If a mistake is made, I repeat, it must be corrected,” he said in a video conference with his Security Council. “Those who were called up without a valid reason should be brought back home.”
Mr Putin’s comments, shown on state television Thursday night, came after anger over conscription spilled over into street protests across Russia, including in an impoverished region of Siberia on Thursday.
They also came on the same day the Kremlin announced it would hold a ceremony Friday to begin taking over four Ukrainian territories in a widely discredited attempt at annexation that Antony J. Blinken, the US Secretary of State, condemned land grabbing in Ukraine as another attempt.
Mr Putin’s comments were remarkable for a leader who rarely admits mistakes, even as he shifted the blame for policy failures to lower-level officials.
While Mr Putin hinted when announcing the draft last week that only men with combat experience and the requisite skills would be drafted, the draft turned out to be much broader, with residents of small towns and villages reporting that draft offices were severely exhausted parts of their able-bodied husbands.
“You have to find out all this,” Mr Putin said. “Unfussy, calm but quick, detailed and thorough.”
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