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13 Mar, 2024 13:59

Ukraine needs massive mobilization to relieve frontline troops – FT

Some 330,000 soldiers must be withdrawn to rest, according to the British newspaper
Ukraine needs massive mobilization to relieve frontline troops – FT

Ukraine wants to mobilize up to 500,000 additional troops mostly to replace frontline soldiers that have not had a proper rest for months, the Defense Ministry in Kiev has claimed to the Financial Times.

An estimated 330,000 “exhausted troops” require rotation, which a radical military reform being deliberated in the Ukrainian parliament is intended to provide, the report said. The remaining new recruits will “replace casualties and meet other military needs,” according to the ministry.

The Russian military estimated Kiev’s casualties at over 444,000, as of the end of February. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed last month that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in two years of hostilities with Russia, a figure that even journalists sympathetic to the Ukrainian cause have called implausibly low.

The conscription reform, which the Ukrainian parliament is set to vote on later this month, will likely introduce harsh punishments for draft dodgers and reduce the age of eligibility for mobilization from 27 to 25. Men of fighting age will be required to submit their personal data electronically for a possible summons, as opposed to the current system, under which conscription officials need to hand over the papers in person.

The Ukrainian government estimates the pool of potential draftees at 3.7 million, the FT reported. That number is a third of the 11.1 million male citizens who would land in the post-reform age bracket. The rest are either fighting, disabled, abroad, or considered critical workers shielded from mobilization.

Would-be conscripts are largely unwilling to answer Kiev’s rallying call, the newspaper said, citing a February survey by Ukrainian pollster Info Sapiens. Almost half of them (48%) said they were not prepared to fight, compared to 34% who said they were. Almost 30% said they were “absolutely not” ready to be mobilized, which was the most popular answer.

When asked why they were reluctant to join the military, Ukrainians cited concerns about the quality of equipment, inadequate training, the risk of death or disability, uncertainty over how long they would have to serve, and the fear of being assigned to a unit led by a poor commander.

The latter risk was cited more often than the danger of being captured by Russian forces, the pollster stated. It could be rooted in the fact that casualty numbers are not taken into consideration when a military leader’s performance is evaluated by their superiors, Info Sapiens suggested.