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Defense Ministry: Military not expecting immediate mobilization of 500,000 men

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk March 13, 2024 9:57 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian infantrymen sit on an armored personnel carrier and return to their base in darkness on January 28, 2024 in Kupiansk Frontline, Ukraine. The Edelweiss Brigade (also spelled Edelveys), a specialized unit within the Ukrainian ground forces, is trying to fend off near-constant Russian attacks on Kupiansk, which is mere kilometers from the frontline. Ukrainian soldiers, mountain assault infantry, hold the front in the winter forest. (Kostiantyn Liberov/Libkos/Getty Images)
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The military is not expecting 500,000 men to be mobilized immediately, and this figure is a general estimation that will be adjusted depending on the situation at the front, the Defense Ministry said in a comment to the Financial Times (FT) on March 13.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in December 2023 that Ukraine's military leadership proposed to mobilize 450,000 to 500,000 new conscripts.

Ukraine's Commander-in-Chief at the time, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, then denied that the military had submitted a formal request for this number of additional conscripts.

"For security reasons, we cannot comment on the exact number of people needed" by the military," the Defense Ministry told the FT.

"At the same time, 400,000 to 500,000 are general estimates, which are adjusted depending on the development of events in the theatre of operations, and which cannot be satisfied immediately."

The Defense Ministry said it published its comments online in full after the FT's article provoked "significant public interest."

"Ukraine was attacked by a state with a population three times larger" and therefore the mobilization of civilians is the "only mechanism" that allows for the defense of the country, the Defense Ministry said.

The Defense Ministry said that some Ukrainian men try to avoid mobilization due to a "lack of understanding" of issues such as training, selecting units, and the terms of service.

The Defense Ministry denied, however, that this "misunderstanding" applied to all Ukrainians, referencing the recent launch of a recruitment campaign.

The campaign "has already demonstrated that there is no general misunderstanding," the Defense Ministry said, as there are currently "more than 90,000 applications for almost 8,000 open vacancies."

The Ukrainian government aims to ramp up mobilization efforts in 2024 and has pledged to change the approach to military recruitment, giving more choices to potential conscripts.

The parliament is now considering a new draft of the mobilization law after its initial, contentious version was withdrawn.

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