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MOSCOW: Russia has seen a significant jump in the number of people signing contracts to join the armed forces since last month’s deadly attack on a concert hall near Moscow, the defence ministry said on Wednesday.
In a statement, it said more than 100,000 people have signed contracts with the military since the start of the year, including about 16,000 in the past 10 days alone.
“During interviews conducted over the past week at selection points in Russian cities, most candidates indicated the desire to avenge those killed in the tragedy that occurred on March 22, 2024 in the Moscow region as the main motive for concluding a contract,” the ministry said.
At least 144 people were killed in a mass shooting and fire at the Crocus City Hall concert venue in an attack that was claimed by the Islamic State militant group.
Russia has said, however, that the attackers were linked to Ukraine – something Kyiv has repeatedly denied and the United States has dismissed as nonsense.
Russia is relying on a steady stream of new recruits to the armed forces in order to wage the war in Ukraine, now well into its third year.
President Vladimir Putin ordered an unpopular draft of 300,000 men in September 2022 but has said there is no need for another compulsory mobilisation because the numbers signing voluntary contracts are so strong.
Posters across Russian cities extol the soldiers fighting in Ukraine as patriots and heroes, and many of those signing up are attracted by salaries far higher than they can earn as civilians.
Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, has been slowly advancing in the past two months after a Ukrainian counteroffensive last year failed to make significant gains.
Defence minister Sergei Shoigu said last month that Moscow would bolster its military by adding two new armies and 30 new formations by the end of this year.

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