Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense of has been working on a new draft law on mobilization for two weeks now. Its goal is to muster as many as 500,000 people to the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Both the parliament and public have already criticized the first version of the document.

Although the draft law was supposed to regulate the issue demobilizing those who have been fighting for nearly two years, since the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion, many lawmakers and analysts view the proposed law as problematic.

After several weeks of discussions in the parliament, the draft law was rebuffed, pending revision. The decision was made at a closed meeting of the leaders of various political factions, led by Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, with the Commander-in-Chief Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, Chief of the General Staff Serhiy Shaptala, and Minister of Defense Rustem Umerov.

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On the same day, Umerov announced that his team had been working on the document for six months, but all comments were accepted and would be taken into account.

Red lines regarding the future document

Stefanchuk, as speaker of the parliament, announced what should not be in the new version of the bill.

“The main issues that I can name are those that limit the constitutional rights of citizens, the recruitment in the army of people with disabilities of group three [less severe disabilities, such as a missing finger or blindness in one eye], the expediency and acceptability of electronic solutions for the registration of conscripts, as well as a number of social guarantees for military personnel,” he said.

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Stefanchuk was positive about the talks with the military officers involved in the preparation of the document:

“We heard the military, the military heard us. In the future, we will be working on forming the proper legal mechanism for mobilization.”

The speaker also emphasized that the parliament “will study the new draft law for compliance with constitutional principles, human rights and freedoms of citizens, as well as for adaptation to martial law.”

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Dmytro Lubinets, the parliament’s commissioner for human rights, said that a representative of his team was already involved in the work on the new text of the document. Previously, he had also criticized the draft bill for violating the norms of the constitution.

Lubinets felt that the Defense Ministry need not be bound by this law to the process of mobilization since mobilization in Ukraine has not stopped.

Among his main qualms were the granting of excessive powers to territorial recruitment centers (TRCs), such as checking citizens’ documents and deciding whether a citizen of Ukraine’s property can be confiscated as penalty.

Moreover, Lubinets does not support the mobilization of persons with group three disabilities.

“The explanation that I heard at the committee meeting was that we have a lot of citizens of Ukraine who took advantage of an illegal right and got a certificate that they were disabled in group three because of a corrupt element somewhere. In fact, they have no right to do so. I’ve said this is not a matter of legislation. And you won’t solve it at the level of the law. You have to solve it differently,” Lubinets said.

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When will the draft law be ready?

Deputy Defense Minister Nataliya Kalmykova said that the new version of the draft law will be in the parliament shortly. But first it has to be approved in the Cabinet of Ministers.

“We would like it to be days, but we understand that it will most likely take a few weeks,” the deputy calculated.

Meanwhile, the Defense Minister reported that the bill will soon be approved by the government and submitted to the parliament for the second time.

The Ukrainian military is still waiting for the start of the demobilization process. But for this it will be necessary to mobilize new people and train them.

Earlier, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the military leadership considers it necessary to draft up to 500,000 people into the army.

But recently the president doubted the expediency of such a number. “I have not yet seen enough clear details to say that half a million must be mobilized,” he commented.

The problem arises with financing, because it will require significant financing from the state budget – perhaps Hr.500 billion ($13 billion dollars).

Zelensky agreed that if there is a lack of trained, professional people, then the military should have a tool in the form of mobilization “so that they can mobilize a part of society and then prepare it.”

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The President added: “It is very important to prepare them and not just throw them onto the battlefield.”

How this problem will be solved remains to be seen.

In December at his first press conference, Gen. Zaluzhny said that he “would never work with such numbers,” in the sense of publicly declaring a specific quantity. “We are aware of the declared volume of mobilization in Russia, and we declare ours. But believe me, Russia will change its numbers. And I’d rather not discuss such figures in general.”

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Comments ( 1)

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Charles Harper
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

In the United States young men can be drafted at age 18 and can volunteer at age 17. It is always amazing to us how old the Ukrainian army is. So many grey beards. We are used to a very young army and military. It seems wiser to us to draft men young when they are just getting started in life. That way careers or education is not disrupted. Also, combat is brutal and hard and a young man in the prime of life has better energy for it than older men do.

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