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11 Apr, 2024 02:12

Ukrainian women should prepare for conscription – top Kiev official

Kiev has been struggling to mobilize enough men to send to the frontline
Ukrainian women should prepare for conscription – top Kiev official

The Ukrainian government should leave its “old-school mentality” behind and implement true equality in its armed forces, Kiev’s chief military adviser for gender issues, Oksana Grigorieva, has argued.

Kiev is currently overhauling its military conscription system, with lawmakers debating amendments to lower the mobilization age and penalize draft-dodgers. There are currently no plans to conscript women, but the idea has previously been raised.

“Our constitution states that it is the duty of every Ukrainian to protect their homeland, so it is only right that women serve too,” Grigorieva told British newspaper The Times on Wednesday. Russia “isn’t simply going to disappear,” she argued, so “like Israel, we have to be prepared for this and that means training up both men and women to be ready for war.”

Ukraine’s armed forces continue to experience dire personnel shortages on the battlefield, as has been admitted by a number of top Ukrainian military officers, including Land Forces Commander Aleksandr Pavlyuk, who warned on Monday that “no one can sit out” mobilization.

More than 45,000 women currently serve in the Ukrainian armed forces, the Ministry of Defense said last month. Last year, all Ukrainian women who have a medical or pharmaceutical education were obligated to register with the military. In January, the Defense Ministry purchased 50,000 sets of women’s uniforms for the first time since the start of the conflict.

In order to encourage more female recruits to join the army voluntarily, changes in “old-school mentality” should be introduced from a young age, Grigorieva argued. “That has to change. Both physically and psychologically, we need to prepare girls from a young age to protect the country,” she claimed.

Though the government in Kiev insists only 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in two years of conflict, some military commanders have privately admitted this number is not plausible. According to recent estimates from the Russian Defense Ministry, Kiev has lost over 80,000 troops – killed and badly wounded – since the beginning of this year alone.

Last week, President Vladimir Zelensky enacted changes to the mobilization law, allowing the army to conscript 25-year-olds and abolishing several categories of exemptions from military service. However, certain categories of state employees have been given immunity for the “critical” importance of their work – which apparently included several circus troupes, but not defense industry employees.

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