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8 May, 2024 13:38

Ukrainian MPs greenlight mobilization of prisoners

Killers would make good soldiers, the country’s justice minister believes
Ukrainian MPs greenlight mobilization of prisoners

The Ukrainian parliament has approved a bill allowing for the mobilization of prisoners for the army, an MP has announced.

Kiev is overhauling its military service system to boost conscription numbers following a series of setbacks in its conflict with Russia.  Senior officials have long advocated turning to the prison system for military recruits.

A final version of the draft law was passed by lawmakers on Wednesday, addressing some previous concerns regarding corruption risks, according to MP Yaroslav Zheleznyak.

Some former public servants and people convicted of corruption charges will not be eligible to volunteer for the draft in exchange for a reduction of their sentences, according to Ukrainian media. Restrictions will also apply to some inmates found guilty of violent crimes, such as cop killers and rapists.

Justice Minister Denis Malyuska has been calling for the conscription of convicts for months. Those who have killed someone in the past may prove to be valuable fighters on the battlefield, he claimed in interviews, while white-collar criminals could be of use for military jobs that require intellectual skills. Kiev intends to form special units comprising freed inmates.

Mobilization reforms will come into force later this month, imposing heavy penalties for draft avoidance, and demanding that fighting-age men report their personal data to conscription centers for possible enrollment. The changes have also reduced the mobilization age from 27 to 25, and altered medical eligibility criteria to expand the pool of potential recruits.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has suspended consular services for citizens living abroad, which has been seen as a message for expatriates to return and fight against Russia.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reported last week that Ukrainian military casualties this year alone have amounted to more than 111,000 troops. Kiev has blamed its battlefield setbacks on insufficient aid from the US and its allies.

Moscow says the entire conflict is a proxy war against Russia caused by Washington, in which Ukrainian soldiers are being used as “cannon fodder” by the West.

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