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Ukraine Parliament passes mobilization bill in first reading amid disputes

If the bill is adopted in the second reading, it could come into force in April.
Ukrainian positions on the frontline. Credit: General Staff
Ukraine Parliament passes mobilization bill in first reading amid disputes

On 7 February, the Ukrainian parliament approved a draft law to strengthen mobilization in the first reading. It received 243 votes out of the required 226.

The second reading is scheduled for 21 February, and it is expected that amendments will be made to the document. If the bill is adopted, it could come into force in April.

The document, which is actively debated in Ukrainian society, proposes several controversial innovations:

  • Lowering the conscription age from 27 to 25;
  • Introducing new measures against those who ignore conscription notices, including restrictions on driving vehicles and account blocking. Restrictions will be imposed by court decision;
  • Military registration is mandatory for conscripts living outside Ukraine; in some cases, if they fail to comply, they may be denied new documents at the consulate.
  • Conscription notices may be sent electronically.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights, previously stated that the new version of the mobilization bill contains provisions that contradict the Constitution of Ukraine. Still, he called for the document to be adopted in the first reading and revised by the second reading.

Valeriy Zaluzhnyi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and one of the speakers on the bill, did not attend the parliament amid reports of a possible imminent resignation.

Ukrainian leadership acknowledges that strengthening mobilization is necessary for successful combat against Russia on the front lines. However, the activities of military recruitment offices are often criticized, with videos posted online showing military recruitment office staff handing out conscription notices on the streets and public transportation, which many find unacceptable. The new draft law aims to streamline conscription rules.

The initial draft of the bill, prepared by the Ministry of Defense, faced much criticism. It was registered in parliament on Christmas but was returned to the government for further revision after heated discussions.

Previously, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated that the military command expects to mobilize around 450-500 thousand recruits in 2024.

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