Around 20,000 Russian citizens of military call-up age resident in Estonia

Russian soldiers (photo is illustrative).
Russian soldiers (photo is illustrative). Source: ERR

There are around 20,000 Russian citizens resident in Estonia who are in age-groups likely to be affected by military call-up in Russia itself, though it is not clear what proportion of this total would actually be required as part of any mobilization.

Janek Mägi, head of Interior Ministry's border guard and migration policy department, said: "The Criminal Code states that participating in an act of military aggression is a penal offense."

While this would certainly be the case in respect of any of those who fight on the Russian side in the conflict in Ukraine, it would not apply to those joining up to serve on the Ukrainian side, Mägi went on.

"On the Ukrainian side, however, this would clearly not be act of aggression. Fighting on the Ukrainian side is not a punishable act," Mägi said.

Joining the armed forces of any foreign state in the event of war can, for instance, lead to the withdrawal of an Estonian residence permit

"Participating in an armed conflict may constitute taking part in a criminal act," said Mägi, a former Center Party minister, continued.

The Interval Security Service (ISS) says that the number of people traveling from Estonia to fight in the Ukraine war is in the "double digits."

As for those who might actually be obliged to serve in the Russian military but who are resident in Estonia, Janek Mägi said these were likely "very few" in number.

"We are aware that there are nearly 20,000 Russian citizens of the corresponding age in Estonia. Most likely, however, Russian citizens who have lived in Estonia all their lives will not have completed military service in Russia. The obligation to mobilize arises once military service is completed," he went on.

Russia declared a large-scale call-up of around 300,000 people, directly in the continuation of its invasion of Ukraine, last fall, a move which almost immediately led to various memes appearing on line, mainly playing on the similarity the Russian term for mobilization (mobilizatsiya) bears to the Russian word for a grave (mogila).

A further call-up has been anticipated as Russia continues its offensives through the winter.

Janek Mägi said anyone notified about a call-up by the Russian Federation should call 1247, the national helpline, to report it.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Tõnu Kajraste

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