Dozens of citizens in Kyiv gathered on Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square on Sunday to call on the government to establish reasonable terms on release from military enlistment or conscription after close to two years of full-scale war.

Among the demands were the demobilization of their loved ones and troop rotations, as some Ukrainians were called into service when Russia launched a full invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, and remain on active duty as Kyiv struggles to fill the ranks.

Banners with messages such as “Heroes are not slaves” and “He is my hero, not your slave” could be seen at the rally.

In recent months, Kyiv has been trying to amend the law on mobilization. The first draft law submitted by the Ministry of Defense was shunned by many and was ultimately rejected; the revised version, taking comments from initial opposition into consideration, recently passed the first reading in the Verkhovna Rada.

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Regarding demobilization, the new draft bill said it would be possible after 37 months – within a month from a servicemember submitting a report to the military.

There are also other grounds to resign from service before the 37 months:

  • due to age or health condition;
  • in connection with the entry into legal force of a guilty verdict, imposing punishment in the form of imprisonment;
  • due to family circumstances;
  • in connection with release from captivity;
  • because of election as a member of the parliament or appointment to the post of judge.

While many were quick to join the military when the full-scale invasion broke out, the grim reality of war has reached beyond the front line, and many Ukrainians are now somewhat reluctant to join the armed forces (AFU).

This has created a dilemma for the military as frontline troops began to experience war fatigue, while it was becoming difficult to recruit fresh troops to replenish the ranks – an increasingly concerning issue in the face of Russia’s manpower advantage.

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As a result, the new draft bill has included terms on demobilization and tightened rules on war dodgers simultaneously to maintain a steady supply of manpower to fend off Russia’s aggression.

However, with the recent change of military leadership in Ukraine, many have also suspected a potential radical change in Ukrainian tactics, which might further complicate the mobilization issue inside the country.

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