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22 Dec, 2023 13:58

Germany vows to protect Ukrainian men from Zelensky

Kiev is planning another draft push and the country’s defense minister is targeting citizens abroad
Germany vows to protect Ukrainian men from Zelensky

Kiev’s new mobilization drive will have no practical consequences for Ukrainians living in Germany, Berlin’s justice minister, Marco Buschmann, told the German Press Agency (DPA) on Friday.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov told German newspaper Bild on Thursday that calls for people to report to recruitment centers would be sent out to all citizens of military age – including Ukrainians living abroad. He also warned that anyone who ignores the “invitations” would face sanctions, although he did not discuss the potential penalties. “It’s not a punishment to defend and serve your country. It’s an honor,” he stated.

The remarks came after Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky revealed earlier this week that the military had proposed drafting an additional 450,000 to 500,000 people, and planned to allocate a further 500 billion hryvnias ($13.3 billion) towards the effort.

Buschmann said Berlin would not “force people to do compulsory military service or military service against their will.” He explained that it was a positive thing that war refugees had been accepted into Germany via a simplified procedure and given the opportunity to work.

“I cannot imagine, as our constitution stipulates that German citizens do not have to serve in the armed forces against their will, that we can force people from other countries to do so,” he concluded.

More than 221,000 Ukrainian men arrived in Germany after the conflict broke out, with almost 190,000 of them still in the country, according to German authorities.

Ukraine announced a general mobilization shortly after the beginning of the conflict with Russia in February 2022, prohibiting most men aged between 18 to 60 from leaving the country.

Kiev has signaled plans to expand recruitment drives for more soldiers amid its stalled counteroffensive, which has failed to show any substantial results since its start in early summer.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu, speaking at a ministerial meeting on Tuesday, estimated Kiev’s losses during the push at 159,000 killed and wounded, and the total casualties sustained by the Ukrainian armed forces at 383,000.

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