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Defense Minister says new version of mobilization bill ready, condemns 'politicization' of issue

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk January 11, 2024 9:04 PM 2 min read
Rustem Umerov stands in the Ukrainian parliament during voting on his nomination as the Ukrainian defense minister in Kyiv on Sept. 6, 2023. (Andrii Nesterenko/AFP via Getty Images)
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The Defense Ministry has prepared a new version of the draft law on mobilization and is ready to submit it to the government for approval, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said on Facebook on Jan. 11

Lawmakers returned the bill on mobilization and military service, which had been submitted by the government on Dec. 25, for a revision earlier on Jan. 11.

The bill was scheduled to be introduced to parliament on Jan. 11, but its plans for further conscription and restricting the rights of draft evaders had already attracted controversy.

A new law on mobilization is needed "as soon as possible" to protect the country and soldiers on the front line, Umerov said.

"Now mobilization, military registration, and rotations, which are critically important for the state, are being politicized and stalled. This is unacceptable in wartime," Umerov said.

"Our soldiers need rotations and vacations. Our soldiers need an opportunity to recover. Our soldiers have the right to know what awaits them and to plan their own lives."

According to Umerov, a working group made up of the Defense Ministry, the General Staff, representatives from all political parties, and "a number of other ministries and agencies" worked on the draft law on mobilization for six months.

After the bill was registered in parliament, Umerov, Commander-in-Chief Valerii Zaluzhnyi, and Chief of the General Staff Serhii Shaptala then came to parliament on Jan. 4 to start talks with the parliament's committee on security and defense on the bill.

The new version takes into account all proposals agreed upon at the meetings of the committee, Umerov said.

Discussions on mobilization have been ongoing since Dec. 19, when President Volodymyr Zelensky said that Ukraine's military leadership had proposed to mobilize up to 500,000 additional conscripts.

Zaluzhnyi then denied that the military had submitted a formal request to mobilize 500,000 people but said that the military did have a plan for mobilization numbers for 2024.

Lawmakers return crucial mobilization bill to government for revision
Following talks with defense representatives, lawmakers return the government’s bill on mobilization and military service for a revision, David Arakhamia, the head of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s Servant of the People faction, reported on Jan. 11.
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