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26 Oct, 2023 13:02

Ukrainian MP reveals ramping up of forced military conscription

National military reserves are currently insufficient for a protracted conflict with Russia, a lawmaker involved with draft issues has admitted
Ukrainian MP reveals ramping up of forced military conscription

Ukraine will likely ramp up its mobilization efforts to replace combat casualties during the summer counteroffensive and potentially create “new brigades”, a Ukrainian MP involved with military affairs has predicted. Currently, military reserves are insufficient to offer frontline troops sufficient rest time, he said.

Sergey Rakhmanin, who sits on the parliamentary Committee for Security, Defense and Intelligence, painted a bleak picture of the Ukrainian mobilization system in an interview with the Ukrainskaya Pravda newspaper on Wednesday. The program is suffering from apathy among recruits, red tape, structural problems and corruption, according to his description.

As Kiev seeks new sources of manpower, Rakhmanin pointed to people who are currently shielded from mobilization, men who left Ukraine, and convicts in prison as groups considered for conscription, but said all of those come with certain issues.

“Up until recently, citizens under 28 who never served in the armed forces could not be mobilized. Military officials insisted that they needed this resource, and asked us to lower the benchmark,” the lawmaker said.

Parliament approved the measures in spring, but President Vladimir Zelensky is yet to sign the bill into law, Rakhmanin said, suggesting that the presidential office feared a public backlash. He stressed that “for a single person to go to war, ten must work in the rear”, and that Ukraine has a “serious shortage of skilled workers” due to long-running demographic problems.

Trying to extradite draft-dodgers from other nations would be difficult, Rakhmanin argued. Convicts pose an obvious risk when they are given arms. Meanwhile, some Ukrainian frontline troops are exhausted, because they have not had a proper pause for months or years.

“We have no physical opportunity to rotate brigades properly,” the MP said. “A stronger military is required to do that.”

The best that soldiers can currently expect is to be pulled back from the trenches for two to three weeks, “so that they could take a breath and get a minimum of replenishment and arms” before being sent back, he stated.

Ukrainian draft officials are grappling with a reluctance of citizens to join the military. Rakhmanin estimated that the country had drawn all willing volunteers by mid-2022, claiming the total number was “an incredible” 400,000.

Some military units who have good public relations have become successful recruiters by targeting people “choosing between waiting for a draft notice and volunteering,” according to the lawmaker. Such people would rather join a brigade with a “winning reputation” who they perceive as successful fighters than take their chances with random assignments through the mobilization system, he explained.