Spread the love

In Ukraine, the law on mobilization sparks new controversy

Photo: Roman Pilipey AFP Ukrainian soldiers prepare to go to the front in the Donetsk region on April 3 as part of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

France Media Agency to kyiv

April 10, 2024

  • Europe

Ukrainian deputies began on Wednesday to examine in second reading the controversial bill on mobilization, causing a new outcry due to a change of heart on the return of soldiers who have been fighting for a long time.

The enlistment of new people has sparked debate in Ukraine for more than a year, while the army lacks manpower and ammunition in the face of Russian forces on the offensive on several fronts.

A bill to facilitate recruitment was passed by the Ukrainian Parliament at first reading in February after the failure of a first version prepared by the government last year, but this second version has since also been heavily amended.

According to several deputies, one of the key clauses in this text was notably removed: the demobilization of soldiers who have been fighting for more than 36 months, a measure which was nevertheless eagerly awaited in a country exhausted by more two years of Russian invasion.

“Following an appeal from the head of the army and the Minister of Defense […], the clause on release from military service after 36 months was withdrawn,” explained on Facebook Iryna Friz, member of the Defense Committee of Parliament.

Several financial incentives intended for soldiers were also removed, according to her.

Mobilization of convicts

Instead, the government will be tasked with drafting another bill on “improving military personnel rotation mechanisms”.

The deputies also voted on Wednesday at first reading a bill making it possible to mobilize prisoners. “We must give those convicted the opportunity to fight,” the co-author of the text, Oleksiï Goncharenko, defended on Telegram, while promising that those convicted of murder or rape would not be enlisted.

Also read

  • Ukraine lowers military mobilization age from 27 to 25
  • Russia 'massively' hits Ukraine's energy grid again

The decision to remove the demobilization clause immediately caused controversy, especially since the current enlistment system is considered by many Ukrainians to be unfair, inefficient and often corrupt.

Serguiï Gnezdilov, a civil rights activist currently in service, denounced on Facebook a “cruel twist” that took the military by surprise.

Youri Goudymenko, a soldier and politician, stressed that the bill now included “neither serious sanctions for fraudsters, nor serious advantages for the newly mobilized.”

“Therefore, this will not have the desired result — an influx of new fighters,” he said on Facebook.

For the spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense, Dmytro Lazoutkin, who recognized that the troops were “exhausted”, such a decision was made necessary by “the impossibility of weakening the defense forces » at a time when “the (Russian) offensive continues literally on all fronts”.

According to him, the government must submit a new bill on rotations in the army within eight months.

“Very tired”

The soldiers interviewed by AFP said they were in “shock”.

“It’s a disaster. It's just brutal. What are they thinking ?,” responded Oleksandr, 46, who serves in the eastern Donetsk region.

“A person who knows when they will be discharged will have a different attitude towards service. If we are like slaves, then… it will lead to no good,” he predicted.

Iévguén, a 39-year-old paratrooper also based in this region, has been in the army for a year and a half. He has not seen his wife for two years, who went abroad, and had only 10 days off last year, which he spent receiving treatment.

“These soldiers who have been fighting for a long time […]. They are very tired,” he notes. “99% of men want to rest, take a break, live a normal life. Living at home,” he says.

Saying he was “scandalized”, Iévguén explains that “many” soldiers are faced with divorce because they are not able to see their wives. “There are soldiers who haven’t returned home for a year. It’s very unfair,” he says.

At the beginning of April, President Volodymyr Zelensky had already approved the lowering of the age at which one can be mobilized from 27 to 25 to expand the pool of potential recruits.

He claimed in December 2023 that the army had offered to enlist up to 500,000 additional people, a number since revised downward by the new commander-in-chief of the army, Oleksandr Syrsky.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116