Ukraine president signs law to boost conscription to fend off Russian aggression

16 April 2024, 16:14

A Ukrainian serviceman in the Donetsk region, Ukraine
Russia Ukraine War. Picture: PA

Many have dodged conscription by avoiding contact with authorities.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed a controversial law, days after it was passed by parliament, potentially helping Kyiv to boost conscription to replenish depleted forces to fend off Russia’s continued aggression.

The mobilisation law, published on Ukraine’s parliamentary website, is expected to take effect in a month and make it easier to identify every draft-eligible man in the country.

Many have dodged conscription by avoiding contact with authorities.

A residential building is heavily damaged following a Russian air strike in Lukiantsi, Kharkiv region, Ukraine
A residential building is heavily damaged following a Russian air strike in Lukiantsi, Kharkiv region, Ukraine (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

The law also provides soldiers with incentives, such as cash bonuses or money towards buying a house or car, which according to analysts Ukraine cannot afford.

Ukraine has been struggling to fend off the Russian advance.

Since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022, Russia has captured nearly a quarter of Ukraine, which is outnumbered, outgunned and in desperate need of more troops and ammunition, as doubt increases about Western military aid.

The signed law was watered down from its original draft.

It did not include a provision that would rotate out troops who had served 36 months of combat.

Authorities said a separate Bill on demobilisation and rotation would be prepared in the coming months.

But the delay caused public outrage among Ukrainians whose relatives have been fighting without breaks for two years.

Exhausted soldiers have no means of taking a break from frontline work because of the current scale and intensity of the war.

Olga, 79, looks though the window of a car as trees are reflected during her evacuation after her house was heavily damaged by a Russian air strike in Lukiantsi, Kharkiv region, Ukraine
Olga, 79, looks though the window of a car as trees are reflected during her evacuation after her house was heavily damaged by a Russian air strike in Lukiantsi (Evgeniy Maloletka/AP)

Ukraine already suffers from a lack of trained soldiers capable of fighting, and demobilising soldiers on the front lines now would deprive its forces of the most capable fighters.

In December, Mr Zelensky said Ukraine’s military wanted to mobilise up to 500,000 more troops.

Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi has since conducted an audit of the military and said soldiers could be rotated from the rear to the front line.

The number was revised but has not been disclosed.

By Press Association

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