We use cookies to provide some features and experiences in QOSHE

More information  .  Close
Aa Aa Aa
- A +

Finns Show Up for Conscription. Russians Dodge It.

3 0 1
16.05.2022

On April 11, while the world was busy watching the war in Ukraine, 98 Finnish sports stars, from ice hockey athletes to basketball players and cross-country skiers, began their military service.

When Joonas Korpisalo, goalie for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, realized he’d have to report for duty to the Finnish military, he was annoyed—but his reaction was simply to bellyache a bit about it cutting into the NHL season. “I should have done this when I was 18,” the 28-year-old Finnish ice hockey star said. The year they turn 18, Finnish men are assessed for military service, which lasts from about six months for soldiers to around 12 months for officers. They can put off serving but only until they’re 28.

Despite his annoyance at not having completed his service 10 years ago, Korpisalo, like the other 97 sports stars, packed his bags—even though six months, let alone a year, is an awfully long time in a sporting career. Among this year’s top athletes donning the Finnish Defence Forces’ uniform: the Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward-center Lauri Markkanen. Indeed, with draft dodging considered socially and personally shameful, virtually every able-bodied Finnish man willingly turns up for military service.

On April 11, while the world was busy watching the war in Ukraine, 98 Finnish sports stars, from ice hockey athletes to basketball players and cross-country skiers, began their military service.

When Joonas Korpisalo, goalie for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, realized he’d have to report for duty to the Finnish military, he was annoyed—but his reaction was simply to bellyache a bit about it cutting into the NHL season. “I should have done this when I was 18,” the 28-year-old Finnish ice hockey star said. The year they turn 18, Finnish men are assessed for military service, which lasts from about six months for soldiers to around 12 months for officers. They can put off serving but only until they’re 28.

Despite his annoyance at not having completed his service 10 years ago, Korpisalo, like the other 97 sports stars, packed his bags—even though six months, let alone a year, is an awfully long time in a sporting career. Among this year’s top athletes donning the Finnish Defence Forces’ uniform: the Cleveland Cavaliers’ forward-center Lauri Markkanen. Indeed, with draft dodging considered socially and personally shameful, virtually every able-bodied Finnish man willingly turns up for military service.

That’s a stark contrast with their neighbors over the border in Russia, where conscription is considered a joke among the middle class and above, who almost universally avoid it through a variety of shady methods—most commonly, by simply paying off a doctor to give them a certificate of medical ineligibility. Russia’s military is now dependent on the country’s most vulnerable groups for recruitment, mostly the poor, unconnected, badly educated, and sometimes even the ill and people with alcoholism. The........

© Foreign Policy


Get it on Google Play