Amending the criminal code with provisions for mobilization, martial law and wartime doesn’t necessarily mean Moscow is about to declare a draft – or war, Russian lawmaker Andrey Kartapolov clarified on Tuesday.
Kartapolov, who chairs the Defense Committee of the State Duma, was the co-author of the amendments the lower house of the Russian parliament approved on Tuesday. Among other things, they establish criminal penalties for crimes committed during “wartime,” “martial law,” or a “mobilization period.”
Fears that this means a mobilization are “absolutely unjustified,” Kartapolov told the Parliamentary Gazette. “There will be no general mobilization. The president has spoken about this more than once and is directly speaking through his press secretary Dmitry Peskov and many other politicians at the federal level.”
Having a law is not the same thing as mobilization, Kartapolov argued, adding that the amendments were “not specifically linked to the special military operation” in Ukraine, but were designed to function “for a long time, at least until they are no longer needed.”
The adopted amendments include harsher punishments for looting or going AWOL during wartime, or committing any crime during a period of military mobilization. They also criminalize the sabotage of defense contracts.
Kartapolov also confirmed that the militias of the Donbass republics would be integrated into the Russian military, in case Donetsk and Lugansk vote to join Russia later this week. This would “significantly change the situation in a number of ways,” he said.
Donetsk and Lugansk declared independence in 2014, after a US-backed coup in Kiev. Moscow recognized them in February, shortly before launching the military operation in Ukraine. Territories of Zaporozhye and Kherson under the control of the Russian and Donbass troops also announced on Tuesday that they would vote to join Russia later this week.
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