Russia’s war in Ukraine: Live updates

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Newly conscripted Russians receive combat weapons in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, on Saturday Sept 24.
Newly conscripted Russians receive combat weapons in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Russia, on Saturday Sept 24. (Eyepress/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed several amendments to the country’s criminal code today, making wartime punishments for various offenses more severe.

Under the amendments, published Saturday on the government’s legal portal, crimes such as refusing to follow the orders of a senior officer during wartime, during an armed conflict or combat operations — or the refusal to participate in military or combat operations during such times — may result in jail terms of up to 10 years.

“The federal law also introduces criminal liability for military personnel for voluntary surrender, as well as criminal liability for looting during martial law, in wartime or in conditions of armed conflict or combat operations,” according to a statement by the Kremlin about the amendments. 

The punishment for those sentenced to imprisonment for committing especially grave crimes can now be replaced by forced labor or another milder type of punishment only after at least two-thirds of the imprisonment term has been served, the Kremlin statement said. 

The Russian president also signed a law that would punish the violation of the terms of a state contract in the field of state defense, especially if such violation caused damage to the state in the amount of at least 5% of the contract price and at least 5 million rubles (about $86,000), as well as failure to fulfill the contract. 

Exemption from punishment is possible “if violations are voluntarily eliminated,” the Kremlin statement says.

Some context: In the wake of Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive this month, Putin and Russian authorities have taken a series of steps to bolster the country’s military and clamp down on dissent at home.

Some 300,000 reservists have been called into military service in what Putin terms a “partial mobilization.”

Nearly 1,500 anti-war protesters have been detained in cities across Russia since the announcement, with some directly conscripted into the military, according to a monitoring group. The punishment in Russia for refusing the draft is now 15 years in jail.

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