Russian soldiers taking part in the war on Ukraine will be eligible for free sperm freezing and storage in cryobanks, Russia’s state news agency Tass reported, citing a lawyers union.
“The families of those called up for military service as part of the partial mobilization will receive free access to fertility treatment and the storage of biomaterial in a cryobank,” said Igor Trunov, president of the Russian Union of Lawyers, which represents several couples where the husband has been mobilized and the family has asked for assistance, according to Tass.
The Russian health ministry responded to a request “on the creation of a free cryobank of genetic material and amendments to the mandatory health insurance system to allocate a free fertility treatment quota for RF (Russian Federation) citizens taking part in the Special Military Operation,” according to Trunov.
“The RF Ministry of Health has decided it is possible to use money from the federal budget to fund the fee-free conservation and storage of sex cells (sperm) for citizens mobilized into the Special Military Operation, in 2022-2024. Any subsequent free use of conserved genetic material in assisted reproductive technology is governed by the law, provided it is indicated as a part of (the individual’s) mandatory health insurance package,” he said, according to Tass.
In November, a US military chief put the number of Russian soldiers killed or wounded in the Ukraine war at over 100,000, with similar numbers on the Ukrainian side.
Facing a series of setbacks on the battlefield, Russian President Vladimir Putin in September drafted up 300,000 additional troops. The ‘partial mobilization’ meant that citizens who were in the reserve could be called up, and those with military experience would be subject to conscription, Putin said at the time.
The move prompted an exodus from Russia as thousands of military-age men fled the country rather than face the risk of conscription. Video footage showed long lines of traffic at land border crossings into several neighboring countries and surging airfares and sold out fights in the wake of the announcement.
More than 8,500 Russians traveled into neighboring Finland by land on the Saturday following Putin’s announcement, according to Finnish Border Guard official Matti Pitkäniitty.
By September 28, collective data from various countries showed that over 200,000 people had fled Russia and traveled into Georgia, Kazakhstan and the EU.
CNN’s Simone McCarthy and Rob Picheta contributed to this report.