As many as 12 military enlistment offices in Russia have been hit by arson attacks since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, according to several media outlets and a top Ukrainian official this week.
Oleksiy Gromov, Deputy Chief of the Main Operations Department of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on Thursday, said there had been at least 12 instances of arson at Russian enlistment offices since the war began in late February, including five in the past week. On Monday, The Moscow Times reported that three such attacks occurred over the weekend in southern regions of Russia.
The arson incidents follow recent fires in Russia at an aerospace research institute, a munitions factory and two oil depots. It also comes as Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s military has suffered severe casualties. Russia’s last casualty data report was released in late March, and it listed that 1,351 Russian soldiers had been killed in Ukraine. Around the same time, NATO estimated between 7,000 and 15,000.
“Arson attacks on military registration and enlistment offices have become a constant feature of life in Russia since the start of the all-out war in Ukraine,” Gromov said during a Thursday press conference.
The Moscow Times reported the first known arson attack on an enlistment office occurred four days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine when a 21-year-old Russian man set a recruitment building on fire in the town of Lukhovitsy. He reportedly said afterward that he wanted to destroy the office’s files to prevent Russian mobilization.
Last weekend’s attacks began on Friday in the Rostov region, according to The Moscow Times. In that incident, a person dressed in black allegedly threw a Molotov cocktail into a recruitment building. That person’s nationality has not been revealed.
Various reports in recent weeks have speculated Putin may be looking to mobilize more troops for his war campaign and may even formally declare war in order to draft conscripts.
The Times (U.K.) wrote on Tuesday that it is not clear whether the arson attacks “were coordinated but they may have come in response to an unannounced mobilization.”
On March 31, Putin signed a decree that ordered 134,500 new conscripts into the army as part of Russia’s annual spring draft. The decree stated the country sought to recruit the new troops, aged 18 to 27, for military service by July 15.
At the time, Russia’s Ministry of Defense said the recruitment effort was not released to the war in Ukraine.
Newsweek reached out to Russia’s Ministry of Defense for comment.