The Ukrainian government is planning to amend its conscription laws in order to allow the drafting of citizens with preexisting health conditions that previously classified them as fit only for limited military service. Dmitry Lubinets, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, revealed this development and assured the public that individuals unable to fight on the front line will be assigned to rear positions. This decision comes as Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia has faced significant losses, which Moscow describes as “catastrophic.”
In a televised statement on Saturday, Lubinets stated that he had proposed to the National Security Council the elimination of the category “fit for limited military service.” The proposal has been approved by high-ranking officials who agree with the ombudsman’s stance. Lubinets explained that a Ukrainian citizen must be deemed either fit for military service or not. If a potential conscript has health conditions that prevent active combat participation, they can still contribute to defense efforts by serving in administrative roles or in missile and cyber forces.
Lubinets highlighted the issue of corruption within the conscription system, where potential draftees bribed officials to be registered as unfit for military service despite being healthy. Conversely, individuals with serious and chronic medical conditions were erroneously declared fit for limited duty. It is crucial to address this problem, emphasized the ombudsman.
The Ukrainian government has faced criticism regarding its conscription system due to widespread corruption throughout the conflict with Russia. According to an article by the Financial Times, some male Ukrainians were paying exorbitant bribes, reaching up to $10,000, in order to avoid being sent to the front lines. In response to a series of corruption scandals, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky dismissed all regional military conscription officials and announced a review of all draft exemptions issued since the conflict began.
However, despite the corruption within the system, President Zelensky has received requests from top military commanders to increase the number of conscripts. As a result, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry issued a decree earlier this month allowing the conscription of individuals with severe health conditions such as hepatitis, HIV without symptoms, and clinically-treated tuberculosis.
The decision to expand the draft is occurring in the midst of Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which has been ongoing for over three months but has not made significant progress. According to Moscow, Ukraine has lost approximately 66,000 troops since the offensive began.
In conclusion, Ukraine is planning to revise its conscription laws to draft citizens previously classified as fit only for limited military service due to health conditions. The intention is to ensure that all Ukrainian citizens are either fit for military service or not, with potential conscripts who are unable to engage in active combat still contributing to defense efforts in different capacities. This decision aims to address corruption within the conscription system and meet the demands of military commanders. However, the effectiveness of the counteroffensive and the heavy losses Ukraine has suffered remain ongoing concerns.