My name appeared in The New York Times article "As Ukraine Expands Military Draft, Some Men Go Into Hiding." I want to provide an extended comment here, as I believe the overall narrative of the paper is misleading despite its merits and attention to facts on the ground.

While the facts in the article are correct and it’s true that some men are avoiding mobilization, this angle is misleading and fails to capture the full picture of what’s happening in Ukraine. 

This narrative does not help in understanding Ukrainian society or in modeling the future.

Of course, during war, some men will hide. This is universal. During the Vietnam War, many Americans avoided the draft. 

People tend to avoid taxes, elections, and other civil duties – let alone fighting in war. Why should we expect anything different in Ukraine? 


The most surprising and unexpected thing in Ukraine is that despite the many years of the war (which has been going on since 2014) and the two years of the full-scale invasion, people remain committed to join the fight. 

The government uses legal means to adapt draft laws, propose alternative solutions (e.g. new recruitment offices), and to rotate military leadership. 

Despite the war's challenges, there are still checks and balances.

Before the invasion, the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology estimated that 37 percent of respondents were willing to fight for the country. 

Pundits and media were skeptical, saying it was just virtue signaling. 

However, as we know, it was enough to mobilize defense forces through military and civilian volunteers. 

Now, in 2024, surveys show approximately 35 percent of eligible men are willing to be mobilized.

The level of support of new mobilization law. Infographics from Nationally Representative Survey conducted by MOBILIZE project and the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology. 



Whether 35 percent is a lot or not is not the point. 

The point is that it is enough for societal mobilization and that it has been surprisingly durable over the years. 

Despite all the war’s challenges, more than a third of men still accept mobilization.

I feel that the paper asks questions like “Why men are hiding? Is the government bad? How long will it last?”

However, the real question is “How come?” 

Why are 35 percent of Ukrainian men still willing to be mobilized despite all the challenges and risks? 

What is Ukraine doing right from a policy and communication perspective so that, despite all odds, a consistent number of men are willing to serve, and the government maintains its checks and balances? 


If scholars, pundits, and media experts focus on answering this, it would be more beneficial for the world.


The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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