Ukraine proposes lowering age for military conscription from 27 to 25

Draft bill proposed as military looks for hundreds of thousands of new recruits in its fight to eject Russia.

Ukrainian soldiers in ghillie suits to camouflage in the snow
The front line extends for 1,000km (621 miles) with the most intense fighting in the east [Thomas Peter/Reuters]

Ukraine has proposed reducing the age of those who can be mobilised into the armed forces from 27 to 25 after the military said it needed as many as 500,000 more soldiers in its now 22-month-long war against Russia.

The age reduction was in the text of a draft law posted on the website of Ukraine’s parliament late on Monday.

The text detailed which Ukrainian citizens would be subject to enrolment for military registration of conscripts and said it would apply to those “who have reached the age of 25”.

An explanatory note signed by Defence Minister Rustem Umerov summarised key provisions of the draft law, saying they included the “change of conscription age from 27 to 25 years”.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed earlier this month that the military had proposed mobilising between 450,000 and 500,000 more Ukrainians but that it was a “highly sensitive” issue that the military and government would discuss before deciding whether to send the proposal to parliament.

Zelenskyy, who has yet to back the proposal publicly, said on December 19 that he wanted to hear more arguments for mobilising additional people. “This is a very serious number,” he said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visiting frontline troops
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has not yet backed the proposal publicly [Ukrainian Presidential Press Service via Reuters]

Ukraine’s troop numbers are not known but in the past, it has been said the country has about 1 million people under arms. US officials estimate that hundreds of thousands have been killed and wounded since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Neither Ukraine nor Russia publishes its casualty figures.

David Arakhamia, the head of Zelenskyy’s party in parliament, said the government was working on the bill at the request of the military and that it was due to be introduced on Monday.

“The military needs a solution to its problems,” he said in a post on the Telegram messaging app. “Society wants to hear answers to all sensitive questions.”

Source: Al Jazeera, Reuters