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27 Nov, 2023 23:56

Ukraine hints at new conscription scheme

Contracts with recruiters will reportedly be introduced to entice the reluctant to enlist
Ukraine hints at new conscription scheme

Kiev has signed contracts with two private recruitment companies in order to appeal to those who have so far evaded conscription, The Guardian reported on Monday, citing Aleksey Danilov, the secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council.

President Vladimir Zelensky said on Friday that a “comprehensive” overhaul of mobilization rules will be announced this week. Danilov’s disclosure appears to be only a part of the broader strategy to address the manpower shortages which have arisen due to heavy losses in this year’s battles.

“Some people are scared, scared to die, scared to shoot, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be involved in other activities,” Danilov told the UK outlet. 

According to him, the military will work with two private recruiters to identify people with specific skills and persuade skilled Ukrainians to enlist and help the military.

“The mobilization will become more flexible, those specialties that are required will be announced, and people will be volunteering for a concrete position,” Danilov said. “For example, they need welders or mechanics and so on.”

An anonymous source at the Ukrainian Defense Ministry told The Guardian that contracts have already been signed with several private companies, but would not disclose more details.

According to the UK outlet, conscripted Ukrainians “get a few weeks of training” before they are sent to the front, amid the fighting many Ukrainian outlets have described as a “meat-grinder.” At least 20,000 men have fled the country and another 21,000 have been caught while attempting to do so, the BBC reported earlier this month. 

Kiev has been hard-pressed to make up for the manpower lost in the four-month counteroffensive on the Zaporozhye front, which Russia has estimated at over 90,000. Several brigades mauled in the attempted attack have since been redeployed to defend against Russian advances.

In early August, Zelensky fired all the heads of regional conscription offices, citing widespread corruption. Ukrainian security services alleged a criminal ring that conspired to sell fake medical exemptions for thousands of dollars each.

Last week, Russian intelligence said that the West has been pressuring Zelensky to reform the draft by expanding the mobilization to more women, as well as men aged 17-70. Kiev has neither confirmed nor denied these claims. Danilov acknowledged the manpower problem but said Russian “propaganda” was blowing it out of proportion.