Russia Just Rolled Out a Very Unusual Military Perk

Soldiers will be able to freeze their sperm for free, take advantage of gratis treatment for infertility
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2022 7:34 AM CST
Russia to Troops: We'll Freeze Your Sperm for Free
In this handout photo released on Dec. 6, Russian soldiers leave a bus after being released in a prisoner swap between Russia and Ukraine somewhere at an unspecified location.   (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

Vladimir Putin has called up 300,000 or so men to fight in the war in Ukraine—what he calls his "special military operation"—and now Russia is reacting to a particular demand that's emerged as a result of that. Per Al Jazeera, after the Russian president called for the mobilization of his country's reservists in September, sperm freezing in Russia saw a spike the following month, as soldiers planned ahead in case they never came back to their families. "In the past, it was people with chronic illnesses who were the main customers," BBC reporter Steve Rosenberg noted at the time, citing Russian media. "Now it's healthy men freezing their sperm, in case something happens to them, so that they can have the guaranteed possibility to become fathers."

Now, Igor Trunov, head of Russia's Union of Lawyers, says the nation's Health Ministry has responded to his plea to allow Russian soldiers to store their frozen sperm in a cryobank, all at no charge to the soldiers. The initiative would use federal funds to pay for collection and storage of sperm cells "for citizens mobilized to participate in the special military operation for 2022-2024," Trunov notes, per the Tass news agency, via Politico. Withdrawing their deposits will also be free, within the guidelines of the troops' compulsory medical insurance. The Russian government will also take care of infertility treatment for soldiers who are interested.

The BBC notes that, "within days" of Putin's "partial mobilization" in September—during which 250,000 or so men fled the country—there was "a surge in men approaching IVF and fertility clinics to freeze their sperm and draw up documents entitling their wives to use it," although the surge has apparently lessened in recent weeks. In November, US Gen. Mark Milley estimated that about 100,000 Russian soldiers have lost their lives or been injured since the war began in February, per Reuters. The Health Ministry itself hasn't yet commented on the sperm-freezing offer. (More Russia stories.)

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