Russia is poised to introduce electronic military draft papers for the first time in its history in an effort to make it harder for men to avoid being drafted after the lower house of parliament gave its backing to the legislation on Tuesday.
The move is part of a wider push by Moscow to perfect a system it has used to bolster its military forces in Ukraine, though government officials say there are currently no plans to compel more men to fight in Ukraine where Moscow has suffered tens of thousands of casualties according to Western officials.
The new draft regime will close numerous loopholes exploited by draft dodgers and give Russia the organizational infrastructure to carry out a much more thorough and wider mobilization campaign if and when it decides to do so.
The new rules will also apply to Russia's regular conscription campaigns which take place twice a year for men aged 18 to 27.
The State Duma, the lower chamber, approved the necessary legislation in two separate votes at lightning speed on Tuesday with near unanimity.
Some lawmakers complained the changes were rushed through without giving them enough time to scrutinize the changes. They were criticized by some senior pro-Kremlin lawmakers for their minor public dissent.
The changes still need to be approved by the upper house of parliament - which is also expected to vote in its favor by a large margin - and by President Vladimir Putin, before they take effect. Both steps are expected in the coming days.
Russia says it mobilized just over 300,000 men last year to help it prosecute what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine, but is now focused on trying to recruit professional volunteer soldiers via an advertising campaign.
"We need to perfect and modernize the military call-up system," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a news briefing on Tuesday before the votes, recalling "problems" experienced last year with the mobilization campaign.
The initial decision to introduce mobilization for the first time since World War Two prompted tens of thousands of draft age men to flee abroad, while some protests broke out - and were swiftly suppressed - in multiple Russian cities.
No second mobilization
Peskov dismissed suggestions that the digitalization plans might spark a further wave of panic and emigration among young male Russians keen to avoid having to fight in Ukraine.
"(This plan) is not connected to mobilization," he said, repeating previous assurances that there were no plans for a second wave of mobilization.
Under the current system, men targeted by military recruiters are hand delivered paper summons at their registered addresses or places of work which they are required to sign for personally.
Recruiters have sometimes struggled to deliver the papers and to know if they have the right address for a draftee.
Under the new proposals, summons will be sent electronically to a potential draftee's personal account on the main government portal. They would be considered delivered as soon as delivered electronically.
Under the legislation, citizens who fail to show up at the military enlistment office will be automatically banned from traveling abroad and face a raft of other restrictions to complicate their lives inside Russia.
The Kremlin last year pledged to fix "mistakes" in its initial mobilization campaign that saw men who were ineligible for the draft due to age or medical conditions being called up to fight in Ukraine.