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26 Jul, 2022 12:14

Ukraine’s military morale in decline – NYT

Those willing to fight are left behind while the unwilling are drafted, according to the US newspaper
Ukraine’s military morale in decline – NYT

Kiev’s “secretive and arbitrary” military recruitment, which leads to the drafting of soldiers who are unwilling to serve, is affecting the morale of the Ukrainian troops fighting against Russia, the New York Times has reported. 

There are “signs, five grueling months into the war, that the sense of unity is fraying at the edges” within the Ukrainian military, the paper pointed out in a report on Monday.

Some soldiers are unhappy that they have done “long, hard service,” while many others managed to stay away from service, it said.

“There is no one to replace us. There are too few people. It’s very hard for the guys, psychologically,” a Ukrainian soldier, who’d spent months fighting, commented.

There is also “disillusionment” among Kiev’s troops with the country’s draft system, which “turns away some who want to fight [due to bureaucratic reasons], while taking in others who are unwilling and unqualified,” the NYT reports.

Some Ukrainian commanders have been complaining that “summoning men unwilling to serve is lowering morale among those who volunteered,” it added.

The paper recalled how, in June, Kiev police announced that they had raided two nightclubs in the capital over violating a curfew, and handed a summons for service to more than 200 male partygoers.

This angered Valery Markus, a senior sergeant of the 47th Armed Forces Battalion, who wrote on Facebook that he was “outraged” because the military profession is “being reduced to the level of punishment for these scumbags.”

In his post, Markus slammed Ukraine’s “chaotic” draft system, arguing that poorly trained and unmotivated recruits are endangering the lives of other troops. He also recalled cases of alcoholism and other troubling issues among the newly arrived soldiers.

The Ukrainian government, which has barred all men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country, has been undertaking a massive recruitment drive amid the conflict with Russia.

Among other things, it includes recruiters handing out draft notices in the streets and other public places. The authorities claim that only those who are willing to join the military are being summoned, but witnesses report that, in many instances, this is not the case.

The large-scale draft is “drawing accusations that it is secretive and arbitrary, that it violates the government’s own rules,” the NYT wrote, adding that it also “led to a cat-and-mouse game between recruiters and men trying to avoid them.”

Almost 27,000 have already signed a petition on the Ukrainian president’s website, calling on Vladimir Zelensky to outlaw issuing summonses in public places and to establish a transparent process through which service personnel might be called up.

In a report in late June, RT detailed how Kiev is sending people to the front without proper medical checkups and having given them only a few days of the most basic training. The ranks of the Ukrainian military, the report explained, are being replenished not only with those unfit to serve but also with convicts being released from prisons.

It also revealed that groups are being created by Ukrainians on social media to share the locations of recruiters in real time, so that those trying to avoid them could do so. The NYT article also mentioned such groups.

Some are unwilling to fight due to the high Ukrainian losses which, according to NYT, “peaked this spring at 100 killed and almost 400 wounded daily,” but others become draft dodgers for political reasons.