Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine can now freeze their sperm for free

The decision comes as Putin called 300,000 more men to war.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Representational image of Russian troops.jpg
Representational image of Russian troops.

DIMUSE/iStock 

If you go to war, you may not come back. That's why Russia is now giving soldiers heading to Ukraine the chance to freeze their sperm for free, according to a report by the BBC published on Thursday.

The outlet reported that Russian Union of Lawyers head Igor Trunov told state news agency Tass that the nation's health ministry had responded to his request for a free cryobank for soldiers at war.

He added that the ministry had "determined the possibility of financial support from the federal budget for free conservation and storage of germ cells (spermatozoa) for citizens mobilized to take part in the special military operation (the term used by Russia for its war in Ukraine) for 2022-2024."

Offering the option to have children

The move would mean any soldier who was lost at war, or simply returned unable to reproduce, would have the option to still have children.

After a series of setbacks in Ukraine, Russia mobilized 300,000 more reservists. That's when men started approaching clinics with requests to have their sperm frozen.

Russia first attacked Ukraine in February with an arsenal of up to 200,000 troops. Since then, it has lost more than half the territory it occupied during the first phase of the war as well as tens of thousands of men. 

Russian soldiers fighting in Ukraine can now freeze their sperm for free
Sperm can be frozen for years safely.

In September, President Vladimir Putin announced a "partial mobilization" while casualties continued to rise. More than 250,000 Russian men have now fled the country to avoid going to war.

Will the country's latest initiative really allow soldiers to have children regardless of how things pan out during the war? A July 2022 study found that frozen sperm was just as effective as fresh sperm in generating pregnancies.  

The research undertook an analysis of 5,335 intrauterine insemination cycles and assessed various outcomes, including a positive pregnancy test, clinical pregnancy, and miscarriage rate. On top of that, the type of ovarian stimulation that women received or did not receive before the intrauterine insemination treatment was also included in the study. 

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Old sperm still viable

Then, in October of 2022, a boy was born in the U.K. using sperm frozen in 1996. The event showed that even old frozen sperm was still viable.

In fact it is so efficient that the U.K. enacted a change in one of its laws that will now allow for more babies to be born from sperm frozen more than 50 years ago. 

Considering this data, it is safe to say that the Russian sperm, which will likely not be frozen for more than a year, could very well be used to produce offspring for the many soldiers stuck at war or simply lost there. The move might offer some comfort to widows left behind who want to keep part of their partners alive.  

But is it enough? 

As Putin sends more and more of his people to battle, the question becomes: how much is he willing to sacrifice for this war?