In the year since Russia annexed Crimea, it has taken strides to integrate the peninsula into the Russian legal and economic systems: Moscow has introduced the ruble, issued passports to residents and implemented russian laws in the former Ukrainian territory. Now, for the first time, Crimean men aged between 18 and 27 will be conscripted into the Russian army, according to a Crimean news agency.
The move provides fresh evidence that the peninsula is slipping further from Kiev’s grasp.
The new Russian conscription law, which came into force on April 1, will require 150,000 draftees nationwide to report to the armed forces by Jul. 15. Around 500 of those will be from Crimea, according to the Russian Ministry of Defense. All conscripts from Crimea will be based in the region upon completion of training.
Crimea was annexed in March 2014 just weeks after pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from power in Ukraine. Armed soldiers without insignia began appearing on the streets in Sevastopol and took over the Supreme Council of Crimea on Feb. 27. The soldiers were later confirmed to be Russian.
After a disputed referendum, not recognized b the international community or by Ukraine, ended with a plebiscite to join Russia, Crimea was formally annexed by Russia on Mar. 18.
Since then, Russian forces have taken over former Ukrainian military bases and begun a build-up of forces in the region. At one point, it was suggested that Russia could place nuclear missiles on the peninsula, but it’s yet to be seen if it will press ahead with those plans.
The newest conscription plans do come with some exceptions. Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on Mar. 30 that would allow eligible residents of Crimea to avoid service if they can prove that they have a degree that is recognized by the Russian legislation on education, and also if they have ever served in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Also, if a citizen is recognized as a forced migrant into Crimea, he can be granted a delay of service for up to three months, according to rules posted on the Kremlin web site.