Ukraine war: Russia blames Ukraine for military call-up centre fires
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The Russian government accuses Ukraine of targeting military recruitment centers for arson attacks, claiming Ukrainian callers are tricking elderly Russians to commit such crimes.

There is no evidence to support the claim.

Ukraine’s prosecutor-general says agents posed as police or creditors in the calls and promised to settle debts in exchange for Russians attacking the centers.

According to reports, some Russians were promised that their stolen savings would be recovered.

Victims were allegedly told criminals had accessed their savings, but if they attacked a recruitment center, they would get their money back.

It was sometimes assured to victims that such an attack would help apprehend the perpetrators.

According to prosecutors, the phone calls were made in mass quantities and coincided with Russian advances in Ukraine.

Russia’s interior ministry stressed that attacks on military recruitment centers are punishable by up to 20 years in prison in a statement regarding the alleged scams.

BBC Europe specialist Alexander Schlichter says Russia’s allegations read ironically as a huge compliment to Ukrainian intelligence agents.

There has been no response from Ukrainian authorities to the Russian accusation.

There have been several such arson attacks in Russia since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

There has been a modest increase in recent weeks, coinciding with an official advertising campaign aimed at mass recruitment.

According to Russia’s Vedomosti news daily, 25 attempts to attack the centers were made on 1 and 2 August alone.

Mironov has written to Shoigu arguing that the Ukrainian call centres identified in the scams now represent legitimate targets for the Russian military.

In Russia, the maximum conscription age was raised by three years last month, increasing the pool of men who can be called up.

Prior to the change, all healthy men between the ages of 18 and 27 in Russia had to serve one year of military service. It is now possible to reach 30 years of age.

In Severodvinsk, in Russia’s Arctic north, a 76-year-old pensioner tried to set an army recruitment center on fire, but his Molotov cocktail hit a wall without igniting.

A school teacher aged 51 was arrested on 30 July after a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a recruitment center in Feodosia, Russian-occupied Crimea.

In the city of Podolsk, south of Moscow, an arson attack targeted a recruitment centre twice on 31 July.