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I always thought they were conscripts, who were ordered to go there, but recently saw a mention that they all were volunteers. So, I wonder whether they signed any paper of consent before being sent there?

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    Please edit to avoid problems of the kind: "is it true", "someone once said", and please document your preliminary research". Sep 22 at 7:49
  • Got curious about this. I looks like the SU did have conscription at the time. However, that doesn't mean conscripts were sent there. I understand the modern Russian state at least has restrictions on conscripts being sent out of the country's borders (which supposedly is part of what's behind the upcoming efforts to officially annex captured Ukrainian territory). Some of the references listed here might be useful for someone looking into this further.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 22 at 19:15
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    An interesting article on JSTOR Manning the Soviet Military from 1982 discusses the history and structure of the Soviet forces in the early 80s. Estimates 70-75% conscripts, 25 to 30% career.
    – justCal
    Sep 23 at 2:52
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    @T.E.D. I think, it is only Putin's verbal promise. Definitely there was no such law or regulation in the USSR. Still they could feel uneasy sending conscripts to a controversial war abroad without their consent. One thing to support this version is that the soldiers in Afghanistan were called "warriors-internationalists". This may hint they signed some paper about "internationalist duty"
    – Anixx
    Sep 23 at 13:55
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    @Anixx - Hmmm. Looking over this, it does appear that the laws in this matter are indeed only that they can't be deployed into combat with less than 4 months training, unless martial law is declared, or there's been a general mobilization (the latter of which is exactly what they're doing right now). Current law isn't really on topic here though, and I'd imagine you have access to much better Russian-language sources than I do English language ones.
    – T.E.D.
    Sep 23 at 18:06

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