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21 Apr, 2024 14:53

Kiev mulls creating convict units

Inmates could be used for manual labor such as building defense fortifications, Justice Minister Denis Malyuska says
Kiev mulls creating convict units

Ukraine could create special units for convicts who are willing to join the military, Justice Minister Denis Malyuska has said. The minister previously suggested that those who had been sentenced for murder could make for more effective soldiers than ordinary mobilized citizens.

His comments came after the Ukrainian parliament earlier this month passed in the first reading a bill allowing certain categories of convicts to be drafted into the military in exchange for a pardon. However, those who have committed crimes against national security, or of murdering two or more people, or rape and pedophilia, are not eligible.

Speaking on national TV on Saturday, Malyuska explained that the bill envisages not only “contract form of service, but also the creation of separate units where those who have been released from prison would serve.”

According to the minister, one of Kiev’s main goals is to create a level playing field for all so that those released from prison do not end up shirking their military service somewhere far from the front.

Malyuska also noted that convicts could perform tasks not related to actual combat. “The modern army is not only about shooting a gun. There is a lot of physical work that does not require the use of weapons 24/7. I think that such units can build infrastructure, field and defense works.”

He also previously argued that those convicts “who know how to kill would be more effective as soldiers” and suggested that, for example, they would be more reliable than robbers if given a gun. He also emphasized that convicts would be used either on the front or somewhere close to it.

Malyuska also admitted at the time that drafting criminals would also help alleviate pressure on the country’s crowded prisons. 

Ukraine’s campaign to call up convicts to service comes as part of its push to replenish battlefield losses. In late February, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu claimed that Ukraine’s forces had suffered more than 444,000 losses since the conflict began in February 2022. Earlier this month, he said Kiev had lost more than 80,000 service members this year alone.

Earlier this month, Zelensky also signed two laws, one that lowers the age of conscription for men from 27 to 25 and one that significantly tightens mobilization rules.

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