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3 Apr, 2024 07:46

Zelensky to mobilize younger men

The Ukrainian president has signed a law reducing the minimum age of military draft eligibility to 25 years
Zelensky to mobilize younger men

Twenty-five-year-old Ukrainian men are now eligible for the draft; on Tuesday, President Vladimir Zelensky signed a bill into law reducing the minimum age by two years.

Kiev is in the process of overhauling its military service system, particularly the process of enlisting new men; some parts of the proposed reform are still being debated in the parliament. Men aged 27 to 60 have been subject to being called up for mobilization; the short amendment lowering the bar to 25 years made it through the nation’s legislature last May before getting stalled at Zelensky’s office.

Hawkish US Senator Lindsey Graham chastised Kiev for failing to call up younger twentysomethings when he visited Ukraine last month.

“I can’t believe it’s at 27,” he told reporters. “You’re in a fight for your life, so you should be serving – not at 25 or 27. We need more people in the line.”

Zelensky has also enacted another part of the reform, which introduces an electronic system, through which citizens of fighting age will be obliged to report their personal data.

This lays the groundwork for future penalties for draft avoidance and a legal requirement for Ukrainians to report for duty when called up through the same system. Currently, conscription officers need to issue a summons on paper and hand it over in person, so those not willing to serve simply hide.

Other pending changes will abolish a category of limited medical eligibility for service currently enjoyed by people with milder conditions. After it becomes law, people previously rejected by medical professionals will have to show up for a new examination and risk being drafted.

Ukraine has an acute shortage of people volunteering to fight Russia and has to rely on forced conscription to replenish its ranks. According to Vladimir Paniotto, who heads the Kiev International Institute of Sociology, a leading national pollster, just 8% of Ukrainians are willing to take up arms.

The Russian Defense Ministry estimated this week that Kiev has lost over 80,000 troops since January. Moscow has accused the US of pushing its opponent to fight “to the last Ukrainian” and standing in the way of peace talks.

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