The decision that Zelenskiy has delayed for a long time: Ukraine has just lowered the conscription age. What this means

The decision that Zelenskiy has delayed for a long time: Ukraine has just lowered the conscription age. What this means
The decision that Zelenskiy has delayed for a long time: Ukraine has just lowered the conscription age. What this means

Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday signed into law two laws that lower the conscription age for Ukrainians from 27 to 25 and force those who have received exemptions for various disabilities to undergo a new assessment, writes Reuters. Analysts warn, however, that Western weapons remain the most important factor in the military’s success.

Volodymyr Zelensky visited his troops in the Zaporozhye regionPhoto: Pool / Ukrainian Presidency / Zuma Press / Profimedia

The law signed by Ukraine’s president on Tuesday will increase the number of men the military can call up to fight under martial law, which has been in place since Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022. It is unclear how many.

The bill has been on Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s desk since it was approved by lawmakers in May 2023, and it was not immediately clear what prompted the president to sign it. Parliament has been debating for months a separate bill that would tighten enforcement of the mobilization law.

Also on Tuesday, Zelenski signed a second bill requiring men who received military exemptions for some disabilities to undergo another medical evaluation.

A third bill the president signed aims to create an online database of people eligible for military service. These laws could help the military recruit more fighters. A number of strict measures contained in an earlier draft of this bill were removed following a public outcry.

“The most important deciding factor”

Ukrainian troops face several challenges on the battlefield amid shortages of ammunition and weapons. Vital US funding has been blocked by congressional Republicans, and the European Union has failed to deliver promised shells on time.

Analysts at the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) have warned that this Western aid remains vital.

“Decreasing the age of mobilization from 27 to 25 will support the ability of the Ukrainian army to restore and reconstitute existing units and create new units. However, Ukraine will have to equip any newly mobilized military personnel with weapons, and prolonged US debates over military aid to Ukraine and delays in Western aid may impact the speed with which Ukraine can restore degraded units and establish new ones.” , an ISW ​​analysis showed.

“ISW continues to assess that Western-supplied materiel continues to be the most important determinant of the Ukrainian military’s ability to restore and enhance its combat power,” the analysis added.

Zelensky did not immediately announce the decision

The enactment of the draft age legislation was not immediately announced by the president’s office. The parliament simply updated the mention for the bill on its website with the information: “returned with the signature of the President of Ukraine.”

Discussions on mobilization were complicated. Zelenskiy said late last year that he would sign the draft law on lowering the conscription age only if he was given a strong enough argument for the need for such a decision.

The Ukrainian leader also said in December that the army proposed mobilizing up to 500,000 more Ukrainians. Since then, Zelenskiy has changed commander Valeri Zalujnîi, replacing him with Oleksandr Sîrski. It said last week that the number of recruits needed had been “significantly reduced” following a review of resources.

Meanwhile, Zelenskiy has warned that Russia could be planning another offensive in the coming months, and Kiev’s troops have stepped up efforts to build strong defensive fortifications along a sprawling front line.

The need for increased mobilization has become increasingly evident in recent months. After the initial shock of the invasion wore off, Ukraine experienced a significant reduction in the flow of volunteer fighters, with numerous cases of draft evasion also reported.

In an interview with HotNews, political scientist Olexii Haran, professor of comparative politics at Kyiv National University-Mohyla Academy, suggested that the mobilization can be done. But carefully.

“If you look at the current polls, we see that there are many people who do not want to go to war, which is understandable. But still, 35% of Ukrainians are ready to join the army,” says Haran.

“We can do it, but the law should be clear and we should find a different approach for mobilization. I mean we shouldn’t be hunting people to bring them into the army. This will not be effective. If we rely on surveys, which show that quite a few people are ready to be mobilized, then we just have to approach them and explain to them where they will be used and in what form, because not everyone would actually go to assault brigades,” he said.

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The article is in Romanian

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