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22 Apr, 2024 18:00

Zelensky explains why young people ‘make better fighters’

They are in better shape and more tech-savvy, the Ukrainian president has said
Zelensky explains why young people ‘make better fighters’

Younger men make better soldiers because they are physically fit and can handle new technologies more easily, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has said.

Speaking with French YouTuber Hugo Travers over the weekend, Zelensky explained why he recently signed the law lowering the age of mobilization from 27 to 25. One of the reasons he gave was that the youth is more technologically apt.

“It is a modern type of war,” he said, pointing to the drones that have figured very prominently on the battlefield. “The new generation masters new technologies much more rapidly.”

Another reason he cited was that younger men could handle the physical demands of combat more easily than older conscripts. As of February, the average age of the Ukrainian soldier on the frontline was 43, reflecting Kiev’s mobilization of mainly older men. Ukraine has since begun to draft women and crack down on draft-dodgers, in an attempt to replenish depleted combat brigades.

“With all due respect to our fighters, there’s a difference between a 25-year-old soldier and a 50-year-old one,” he told Travers. “There are specific criteria regarding the age and physical condition of fighters, so that they can be trained and sent to the front.”

The military requested changes to the mobilization law due to the “specific needs” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Zelensky explained. He said one of the needs identified by the military was to train new troops so they could “replace those who have been fighting for two years.”

However, the recent mobilization law approved by the parliament did not include a provision on demobilization, resulting in widespread complaints from the troops.

In addition to lowering the conscription age to 25, the new rules force all Ukrainian men aged 18-60, including those residing outside the country, to register for conscription. Summonses for mobilization, previously handed out in person, have become automated and the punishments for defying them more severe.

Kiev has not made public how many troops it intends to raise through the new measures, as the “unpopular” mobilization of hundreds of thousands “risks stoking panic,” according to the Washington Post. In December, Zelensky mentioned the number 500,000, but has since backtracked from that figure.