Valery Zaluzhny, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU), said he supported a bill that would significantly increase the criminal liability of insubordinate soldiers.
On Dec. 19, Zaluzhny posted a video on Facebook calling on President Zelensky to sign a bill that would increase responsibility for unauthorized abandonment of a military unit or duty station, desertion, abandonment of a battlefield, or refusal to act with weapons, and disobedience of combat orders.
"I support the relevant amendments to the legislation adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine and ask the President to sign the law. My opinion reflects the position of group commanders and military units who demanded a systemic solution to this set of issues," Zaluzhny said.
The AFU commander-in-chief stressed that the army relies on discipline and "if gaps in the legislation do not enforce it," this is unfair.
In particular, Zaluzhny chastised those who choose to pay a fine or receive punishment with probation in order to avoid military service.
"Moreover – and this is key – exposed areas of the front are forced to be covered by other soldiers, resulting in increased losses of personnel, territory, and civilians. Often, lost positions must be recovered by assault at a very high cost. It should not be like this," Zaluzhny said.
In peacetime, the AFU commander-in-chief said the issue could have been settled more gently – with explanations and persuasion. However, in wartime, "quick, effective solutions are needed."
On December 13, the Verkhovna Rada passed a bill on the specifics of military service under martial law, providing additional responsibility for service members.
Human rights activists and the public called on President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to veto this law. A petition to this effect has received over 25,000 votes on the presidential office's website.
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