Russian officials have announced that soldiers and civil servants sent to fight in Ukraine will be exempt from income tax, Moscow’s latest effort to boost support for military campaign against Kyiv which has suffered numerous setbacks and defeats.
The new tax measure affects all Russian troops fighting in the four Ukrainian territories that Moscow has claimed as its own – Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhia – although it does not fully control the four regions.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday cited an exception contained in an anti-corruption law that Russian authorities released details of on Thursday evening.
Soldiers, police, members of the security services and other government officials serving in the four regions no longer have to provide information on “their income, their expenses, their assets,” according to the decree.
Russian forces in Ukraine are also allowed, according to the decree, to receive “awards and gifts” if they are of a “humanitarian nature” and received as part of what Russia calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The tax breaks also apply to the partners and children of those serving and are from 24 February 2022 – the date Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine.
Moscow Times reported that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree on Thursday removing requirements for government officials to disclose their income tax returns during Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Prior to the decree, Russian law required government officials to publicly release tax returns for themselves and their family members in an effort to curb endemic corruption. Military officers were also required to disclose their tax returns upon appointment or dismissal,” reports the Moscow Times.
“The decree also exempts soldiers fighting in Ukraine and members of the security services from releasing their tax returns, as well as officials who have traveled to Russian-annexed regions of Ukraine for work,” the Times reported.
The Kremlin has introduced a series of incentives for Russians fighting in Ukraine, offering cash bonuses and promising financial aid to families in the event of the death or injury of loved ones.
Earlier this week, it was announced that Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine could receive theirs sperm frozen for free in cryobanks.
The news that the Russian state will fund sperm freezing for its armed forces follows reports in October that demand for sperm freezing had increased after Putin announced a partial mobilization to send more troops to support Moscow’s war effort.
Moscow’s mobilization drive prompted hundreds of thousands of Russians to they flee the country so as not to be drafted.
Thousands of Ukrainians have also fled to avoid involvement in the war, German news agency DPA reported on Friday. DPA reported that “almost 12,000 men were caught trying to cross the border illegally, heading for Western countries.”
Citing Ukrainian border troops, the news agency said 15 men died while trying to flee the country to avoid military service, including “two who reportedly froze to death in the Carpathians on their way to Romania.”
Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov said that given the extent of Russia’s losses of equipment and troops in Ukraine, it would take at least five years for Moscow’s military to regain its former strength.
“According to NATO intelligence, the Russians have huge losses of tanks, artillery, armored personnel carriers and soldiers,” Reznikov was quoted as saying by Ukrainian Pravda media. “The regular armed forces of the Russian Federation can be restored in five years at the earliest, maybe not in 10 years,” he said.
Reznikov did not give details about Ukraine’s armed forces, but the countries did suffered heavy losses since the beginning of the war in February.
United States General Mark Milley estimated in November that about 100,000 Russian soldiers had been killed or wounded since the February invasion. He said Kyiv’s armed forces “probably” suffered a similar level of casualties.
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