Zelenskyy downplays need to conscript 500,000 reservists but says mobilization law still critical

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy sees no need to mobilize half a million people in Ukraine, he said in an interview with the British TV Channel 4 News, published on Jan. 21.

At the same time, he called the mobilization bill very important, both for the military and for civilians who may be drafted into the army.

"Personally, I do not see the need to mobilize half a million people today," said the head of state.

“It's not just lives: lives are the number one priority. But there are also appropriate actions and operations.”

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Additional funds are needed for mobilization and military salaries, which do not come from Ukraine’s international partners. This money must be found in Ukraine’s budget, Zelenskyy stated.

He called the mobilization bill a matter of justice, first of all for soldiers currently in the military, who need to rest.

"It is fair to rotate them out,” the President said.

“it is fair to give them a rest. It is unfair to ignore someone when they are dying for you.”

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A law is also needed to govern how civilians are conscripted. There should be clearer tions regarding military training and terms of service, the President emphasized.

Zelenskyy said during a press conference in December that Ukraine's military leadership had requested the mobilization of an additional 450,000-500,000 people, which would cost 500 billion hryvnias ($13.4 billion).

The Ukrainian parliament was set to vote on the Cabinet's draft law on mobilization on Jan. 11, but, following a meeting of MPs with Valerii Zaluzhnyi, Rustem Umerov, and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Serhiy Shaptala, it was returned to the government for revision.

Provisions included in the law’s initial version included:

·         lowering the draft age from 27 to 25 years

·         abolishing conscription

·         sending draft notices electronically

·         the possibility of discharge after three years of continuous service during martial law

·         introducing basic military training for three months for all citizens aged 18 to 25.

MPs expect a second version of the mobilization bill in the first week of February. However, the government has not made many concessions, NV’s partner news outlet Ukrainska Pravda reported on Jan. 18.

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