President Vladimir V. Putin’s surprise draft to reinforce his invasion of Ukraine has run into growing resistance across Russia as villagers, activists and even some elected officials asked why the conscription drive appeared to be hitting minority groups and rural areas harder than the big cities.
Some of the greatest anguish played out hundreds or thousands of miles away from the front line, in the Caucasus Mountains and the northeastern region of Yakutia, a sparsely populated expanse that straddles the Arctic Circle. Community leaders described remote villages where much of the working-age male population received conscription notices in recent days, leaving families that subsist off the land without men around to work ahead of the long winter.
“We have reindeer herders, hunters, fishermen — we have so few of them anyway,” Vyacheslav Shadrin, the chairman of the council of elders for a small Indigenous group known as the Yukaghirs, said in a phone interview. “But they are the ones being drafted most of all.”
Mr. Putin announced the call-up on Wednesday, describing it as a “partial mobilization” necessary to counter Ukraine and its Western backers, who he said were seeking Russia’s destruction. It was a move he had long delayed making, even as supporters of the war clamored for a draft in order to allow Russia to intensify its assault.
But by Friday, even some of the hawkish commentators who had been urging a draft were criticizing the sweeping and uneven way it appeared to be rolling out. A popular pro-war blog on Telegram, Rybar, described receiving “huge numbers of stories” of people with health problems or without combat experience getting draft notices, even as some volunteers were being turned away.