US pressures Kyiv to address conscription issues — NYT

A Ukrainian soldier in the Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, April 2024
A Ukrainian soldier in the Chasiv Yar, Donetsk Oblast, April 2024

American officials have pressed their Ukrainian counterparts to address problems with its draft, The New York Times reported on April 26.

James O'Brien, the assistant U.S. secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said on a visit to Kyiv that Ukraine's conscription efforts were every bit as critical to stabilizing the front and turning the tide of war as artillery.

"Ukraine needs to make sure it has the people necessary to fight," he said

Read also: Ukrainians abroad will not get draft notices — Defense Ministry

The NYT describes Ukraine's conscription efforts and reminds that Russia seeks to leverage its advantage in armament and manpower on the eastern front.

Ukraine's Joint Forces Commander Lieutenant-General Yuriy Sodol said that Kyiv is facing a significant shortage of soldiers, with Russian troops outnumbering the Ukrainian Armed Forces by seven to ten times.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a bill on April 2 that lowers the military conscription age in Ukraine from 27 to 25 years.

Conscription law in Ukraine

The urgency of the situation was underscored on April 11 when the Ukrainian Parliament passed the second reading of the conscription bill No. 10449 with a substantial majority of 283 votes in favor. The bill's latest amendments include striking provisions for automatic demobilization after 36 months of service without the approval of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff and modifying the rotation schedule for military personnel.

Read also: New mobilization bill effective date revealed

The document specifies that the following groups of people are only subject to conscription if they volunteer:

  • persons with disabilities (for military service under a contract)

  • persons released from captivity

  • persons under 25 years old who have completed basic general military training or basic military service.

Temporary suspension of consular services for Ukrainian men

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has instructed its diplomats abroad to suspend consular services for draft-eligible Ukrainian citizens, except for processing documents to return to Ukraine, Ukrainian newspaper ZN.UA reported on April 22.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba confirmed on April 23 that military-age male Ukrainian citizens abroad will no longer be able to obtain or renew passports and travel documents abroad unless they intend to return to Ukraine. The move is aimed at broadening the pool of potential military recruits, given Kyiv’s urgent need for additional manpower.

Read also: Restrictions on consular services for Ukrainians in Germany will not affect their refugee status

Ukraine’s parliamentary National Security and Intelligence Committee announced on April 24 that it intends to summon Foreign Ministry officials to explain the legal basis for these restrictions.

Warsaw is ready to facilitate the return of military-age male Ukrainians currently living in Poland to fulfill their civic obligations at home, Reuters, Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said on April 24. 

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