Ukraine enacts contentious law putting more pressure on civilians to enlist

The Ukrainian Parliament, known as the Rada, approved a new law on the mobilization of civilians to serve in the Armed Forces to ensure that there are enough troops to resist the Russian offensive. With 283 deputies voting in favor, 43 abstaining, and only 1 voting against, the law was passed quickly after pressure from both military leadership and NATO allies. The law increases pressure on civilians to join the ranks and enforces penalties for those who resist recruitment, with measures including withdrawing driving licenses or passports of those who ignore the call to serve.

President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the Armed Forces expected to recruit about 500,000 new soldiers, although the actual number may be lower, between 300,000 and 400,000 recruits. The law caused controversy, particularly regarding the return to civilian life of soldiers who have been fighting for three years, with concerns that 200,000 soldiers could be demobilized this year. The law also allows for the rotation of soldiers on the front lines to provide breaks for active military personnel.

The law gives more power to recruiting offices and police to identify those who ignore military summonses, with sanctions including fines and the withdrawal of licenses. There are also provisions for encouraging enlistment, such as allowing volunteers to choose their unit and providing subsidies for vehicle acquisition and loan benefits. The law aims to ensure that each person assumes a position in the Armed Forces appropriate to their profile and training.

While the law is unpopular and only 35% of eligible Ukrainians may be willing to enlist, it is seen as crucial to stop the Russian offensive. The international community, including three American generals, has emphasized the importance of the new conscription law for Ukraine’s defense. The law is awaiting signing by President Zelensky and is expected to come into effect in a month, with the aim of protecting the nation and achieving peace in Ukrainian cities.

By Samantha Robertson

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