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Ukrainian president signs controversial law to boost conscription to fend off Russia's aggression

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LA Post: Ukrainian president signs controversial law to boost conscription to fend off Russia's aggression
April 16, 2024
HANNA ARHIROVA - AP

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a controversial law Tuesday, days after it was passed by parliament, potentially helping Kyiv to boost conscription to replenish depleted forces to fend off Russia's continued aggression.

The mobilization law, published on Ukraine’s Parliamentary website, is expected to take effect in a month and make it easier to identify every draft-eligible man in the country. Many have dodged conscription by avoiding contact with authorities.

The law also provides soldiers with incentives, such as cash bonuses or money toward buying a house or car, which according to analysts Ukraine can’t afford.

Ukraine has been struggling to fend off the Russian advance.

Since the full-scale invasion began in Feb.2022, Russia has captured nearly a quarter of Ukraine, which is outnumbered, outgunned and in desperate need of more troops and ammunition, as doubt increases about Western military aid.

The signed law was watered down from its original draft. It didn't include a provision that would rotate out troops who had served 36 months of combat. Authorities said a separate bill on demobilization and rotation would be prepared in the coming months. But the delay caused public outrage among Ukrainians whose relatives have been fighting without breaks for two years.

Exhausted soldiers have no means of taking a break from front-line work because of the current scale and intensity of the war.

Ukraine already suffers from a lack of trained soldiers capable of fighting, and demobilizing soldiers on the front lines now would deprive its forces of the most capable fighters.

In December, Zelenskyy said Ukraine’s military wanted to mobilize up to 500,000 more troops. Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyi has since conducted an audit of the military and said soldiers could be rotated from the rear to the front line. The number was revised but has not been disclosed.

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