On March 18th the self-declared prime minister of Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, declared that in the coming spring young Ukrainians, Russians, and Tatars of Crimea will be drafted into the Russian army. In Russia, conscription is mandatory for all male citizens age 18-27.
“After becoming a part of Crimea, Crimea will operate under the Russian Constitution. Crimea will also fall under the jurisdiction of other Russian laws. Among these will be enlisting into the Russian army […] conscripts will serve across the country, including in Dagestan and Chechnya and the North Caucasus in general.”
– Sergei Aksyonov
Earlier in the day it was announced that Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov had died.
The prospect of muslim Crimean Tatars, who make up 15% of the Crimean population, being forced to go to war in Chechnya may become a highly flammable situation. Crimean Tatars maintain friendly relations with neighboring muslim republics in Russia including Chechnya. Tatars largely boycotted the internationally unrecognized referendum. Deploying conscripts, which also would by nature include a large Ukrainian contingent against the Ukrainian armed forces in a potential conflict would also pose conflict.
Aksyonov was installed as the self-declared prime minister of Crimea in a coup d’état. On February 27 the Crimean legislature was occupied by pro-Russian forces armed with assault rifles and rocket launchers who identified themselves as members of Crimea’s “self-defense forces”, all of which who, according to Aksyonov, are directly under his control. Following a closed door election under the presence of the gunmen, Aksyonov was named prime minister, allegedly with the blessing of deposed Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych. Aksyonov is known for his shadowy past and alleged involvement in organized crime in the region where he earned the nickname “The Goblin.”