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Zelenskyy raises equity concerns, suggests mobilization numbers may fall below 500,000

21 January, 2024 Sunday
16:39

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls the draft law on mobilization a matter of justice, but sees no need to mobilize half a million people

He said this in an interview with the British TV channel Channel 4 News.

"Mobilization is fundamentally about understanding its implications across different society segments. It's a justice issue because there are people who have been on the front lines since the first day, and their lack of complaints doesn't negate the need to provide them with the opportunity to rest or be replaced," noted Zelenskyy.

According to him, if there is a personnel shortage on the battlefield, the state is obligated to provide the military with the mobilization tool.

However, the president emphasized that it does not mean that those mobilized should be immediately thrown into combat, as they are "not just meat." He added that people should receive military training, adequate provisions, and a defined term of service.

"Therefore, a law on mobilization is necessary — smart and fair. For the military, it is essential. It cannot be said that having an army is enough for them. That's unfair and unjust. The entire history of mobilization is a question of justice. It is fair for someone to have a break. It is unfair to evade when someone else is sacrificing their life for you. It is just that a person should know where they are going and for how long," emphasized the head of the state.

Addressing the war fatigue

Furthermore, Zelenskyy commented on media reports regarding alleged war fatigue in Ukraine.

"We cannot afford war fatigue. I'm not only talking about the front; it includes people who work, run businesses, and pay taxes. You can get tired to do it all while missiles are falling, but people continue," said the president.

He emphasized that Ukraine cannot afford war fatigue because "we will lose what we have."

"You can allow yourself to get tired in the evening after work, but in the morning, you'll have to defend the state, fight for it if we want to preserve it," the president stated.

How many mobilized personnel are necessary

The President also indicated that the mobilization is anticipated to involve fewer than 500,000 people, as outlined in the draft law.

"I personally do not currently see the need to mobilize half a million people. Not because I want to please someone, but because these are people, lives. Today, I haven't seen enough clear details to say that half a million need to be mobilized. And thirdly, it's about money. Regardless of how anyone feels, all these finances don't come from partners - it all comes from the Ukrainian budget," emphasized the leader of the state.

He added that there is a request for half a million to be mobilized into the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but "we need to calculate everything very carefully."

Draft law on mobilization

On December 19, President Zelenskyy said at a press conference on the results of 2023 that the General Staff had asked for the mobilization of an additional 450,000-500,000 Ukrainians.

On December 25, the Cabinet of Ministers submitted a bill to the Rada to improve the mobilization procedure.

  • The draft law proposes
  • improving the procedure for military registration of conscripts, persons liable for military service and reservists;
  • change the conscription age from 27 to 25 years;
  • enabling servicemen released from captivity to rest and recuperate by granting them additional paid leave for 90 calendar days;
  • removal of regular military service as a distinct type of military service. Consequently, all military personnel currently engaged in regular military service are recommended to be discharged into the reserve;
  • establishing that persons liable for military service during mobilization are not subject to call-up for military service for two years from the date of discharge from military service who served during the legal regime of martial law and were discharged from military service in the reserve. Such persons may be called up for military service during this period upon their consent;
  • removal of the conclusion on limited fitness for military service from the list of conclusions provided by military medical commissions;
  • introduction of basic general military training for citizens of Ukraine for up to 3 months for all citizens aged 18 to 25 years at all educational institutions;
  • introduction of basic military service at will up to the age of 25 for those who have not completed basic military training;
  • limiting the rights of Ukrainian citizens who evade military registration and military service;
  • involvement of administrative service centers, employment centers and recruitment centers in military recruitment activities.

On January 8, the Parliamentary Committee on Anti-Corruption Policy recognized the government's draft law on mobilization as containing corruption risks. The Parliamentary Committee on Social Policy sent the draft law on mobilization back for revision.

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