Photos show aging Russians forced to fight in Ukraine

The face of Russia’s war in Ukraine has wrinkles.

Photos documenting the first week of Russia’s mobilization order calling for 300,000 more soldiers to be drafted show older men being forced into the fight.

Images from the rural province of Sverdlovsk reveal a pair of silver-haired soldiers arriving at a training barracks in central Russia.

Some soldiers standing for inspection at a ceremony in Sevastopol displayed wrinkles and liver spots. One man, with a gray-streaked beard, held his AK-style rifle in a hand with three bandaged fingers.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he was calling up hundreds of thousands of troops in a so-called partial mobilization, he assured Russians the draft would prioritize young and healthy reservists.

Throughout the country, however, there have been reports of students, retired veterans, and Russians with medical issues being pressed into uniform.

In an address to Russia’s security council Thursday, Putin called such draftees “mistakes” and demanded they be corrected.

“I repeat: Citizens who are in the reserve are subject to conscription, and above all those who have served in the Russian Armed Forces and have in-demand military specialties and relevant experience,” he said.

Putin said others, including “fathers with many children, or people suffering from chronic diseases, or who have already passed the draft age,” are entitled to a deferment, according to state-run news outlet RIA.

A government-run web portal meant to provide information about the draft stated on Wednesday that privates and sergeants would not be called up if they were over 50. Senior officers could be sent to war so long as they were younger than 65, the Kremlin said.

The mobilization has been wildly unpopular in Russia, sparking protests, violence, and the exodus of hundreds of thousands of fighting-age men.

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