Ukraine Passes Divisive Conscription Law Which Aims To Bolster Forces by 500,000

Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday passed an ultra-controversial military mobilization law aimed at drastically boosting the number of its troops at a moment forces are facing severe manpower shortages amid the unrelenting Russian onslaught.

It passed with a clear majority supporting, with 283 votes in favor in the 450-member parliament. The wake of the much-anticipated vote, “The law passed by legislators on Thursday addresses the issue of mobilization broadly, and includes provisions that lawmakers said were aimed at making the conscription process more transparent and equitable. The full text of the law was not immediately available.”

But among the most immediately controversial elements will include expanded powers given to Ukrainian authorities to issue draft notices on a larger scale, including using an electronic system. It also reportedly expands the age for draft registration, including for those living abroad.

Recruiters have long sought to stamp out draft evasion, to the point of tackling and arresting young men in the streets, after which they are sent to brief training and then the front lines.

But the most controversial aspect is that a key provision got quashed which assured rotation of servicemen. In many cases the same ground units have been stuck at front line positions since the start of the war. Troops had been promised that reinforcements would soon be rotated from rear positions, but this assurance is no longer the case:

The vote came after parliament’s defense committee removed a key provision from the draft Tuesday that would ensure the rotation of servicemen after 36 months of combat, a move that surprised some lawmakers as it had been a promise of the Ukrainian leadership.

Lawmaker Oleksii Honcharenko said in a Telegram post that he was shocked by the move to remove the provision. It was likely taken out because, considering the scale and intensity of the war against Russia, it would prove difficult to implement. Ukraine already suffers from a lack of trained recruits capable of fighting, and demobilizing soldiers on the front lines now would deprive Ukrainian forces of their most capable fighters.

Thursday’s parliament vote paves the way for another comprehensive defense ministry mobilization policy and law which is to be focused on demobilization, expected to be issued within the next eight months. This appears to be a move to soften the controversy surrounding this fresh mobilization that just passed. 

But by then it could be too late, as all of this could unleash Ukrainian fighting in the streets as recruiters are expected to widen the net of those being drafted into the military. Many young Ukrainian men and their families see the prospect of being shipped off to the front lines as a certain death sentence, as the war grinds on with no prospect of peace negotiations in sight for now.

Back in February, former army Commander in Chief Valery Zaluzhny sparked controversy in saying that Ukraine needs have a half-million more new recruits this year if it hopes to keep up force strength. He had also explained that exhausted men who had served for two years at the front lines needed to be rotated out. President Zelensky, reportedly fearing immense public backlash over the proposed policy, sacked his defense chief and made him ambassador to the UK. But now it appears Kiev has no choice, given Zelensky has abandoned the option of sitting at the negotiating table with Putin.


Zero Hedges

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