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13 Mar. 2024

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The reserve of volunteers has been exhausted: will Ukraine be able to mobilise half a million people into the army?

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The reserve of volunteers has been exhausted: will Ukraine be able to mobilise half a million people into the army?

The draft law on mobilisation, which is being considered by the Verkhovna Rada, should improve the conscription of Ukrainian men into the army, as Ukraine has run out of volunteers and now it is necessary to recruit citizens who have not been sent to the frontline so far. Find out how many men Ukraine can mobilise and why it is needed

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Ukraine wants to mobilise 500,000 people. This has been stated several times by the country's Ministry of Defence and by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself. To enable large-scale mobilisation, the Ukrainian parliament is working on a special bill to regulate the legal framework ahead of a new wave of conscription. With reference to the Financial Times, we discuss whether Ukraine will be able to attract so many men to the Armed Forces.


The main reason for the new wave of mobilisation is the exhaustion of the military, who have been defending the country at the front for two years and have hardly been on leave.


"Two years without a break, without rotation - of course, morale is low and it kills motivation. We need either a rotation or a regular leave to have a proper rest," said paratrooper Ilya, who had only 25 days of leave in the two years of war.


According to the soldier, men in Ukraine are trying to avoid mobilisation because they are afraid of indefinite service, meaning that they will have to join the army for an unclear period of time. However, if these men do not come, the soldiers at the front will not be able to rest.


Why does Ukraine want to mobilise exactly 500,000 people?


The new mobilisation law, according to the FT, aims to update the country's legal framework ahead of the expected wave of recruitment this year, during which up to 500,000 people may be called up.


The recruits are to be called up to replace the 330,000 exhausted troops currently on the battlefield. The rest of the mobilised soldiers will replace losses and meet other military needs depending on the situation at the front.


Volunteers have run out, but there is a mobilisation reserve


The publication notes that the reserve of men who wanted to voluntarily go to defend Ukraine has been exhausted, and a significant number of men of military age do not want to go to the front.


Currently, Ukraine is only allowed to recruit men aged 27 and older, but since many went to war as volunteers, the average age of Ukrainian soldiers at the front is around 40, which is considered a fairly old age in the army.


At the same time, statistics show that the proportion of millennials and Generation Z (those born from the early 1980s to the present) in Ukraine is lower than in other countries, as the country's birth rate has fallen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.


In order to increase mobilisation and rejuvenate the army, the government is proposing to lower the age of those eligible for conscription to 25 years as part of a new draft law. However, some believe that sending young people into the trenches is suicidal for the economy and the nation.




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How many men can Ukraine mobilize?


According to the data provided by the economic committee of the Ukrainian parliament, the FT writes that out of more than 11 million men of military age (25 to 60 years old), only 3.7 million are subject to mobilisation.


The rest are either at the front, have disabilities, are abroad, or are reserved for critical enterprises.


The Ukrainian government understands that mobilisation must be done carefully to ensure that taxpayers do not flee abroad or go into the shadow economy, as this would deprive the budget of the revenue that Ukraine needs more than ever.


There is also a proposal in Ukraine to reserve people from mobilisation for money. As of today, between 550,000 and 700,000 workers have already been "reserved" in Ukraine. Under the new system, reservations will require a financial contribution to victory - either a certain amount of payroll taxes or a fixed monthly payment.


According to calculations by the parliament's economic committee, if about 2 million men paid up to UAH 20,000 a month as a special contribution, the budget could receive between UAH 200 and 350 billion in a year.


The Rada emphasises that whatever approach is chosen, Ukraine needs to mobilise funds in some way, and economic reservation is not intended to "save" men from mobilisation, but to generate as much financial resources for the army as possible.


At the same time, the Ministry of Finance estimates that additional mobilisation in 2024 will cost Ukraine about UAH 800 billion. This will only increase Ukraine's already large budget deficit, especially given the delay in the US portion of aid to Ukraine, which is being blocked by Republicans in Congress.


Mobilisation of prisoners


On 13 March, the website of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine published a draft law that stipulates that Ukrainian prisoners will be able to receive parole if they sign a contract with the Ukrainian Armed Forces.


At the time of writing, the text of the document was not available, so it is unclear what exactly is proposed in the draft law.


We remind you! The government has amended the regulations on territorial recruitment and social support centres. In particular, their powers during martial law have been significantly expanded. We will tell you what has changed here.

Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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