Ukraine lowers conscription age to 25 to plug shortfall in fight against Russia

Many Ukrainian men are evading the draft by hiding at home or trying to bribe their way out of the battle. Credit: AP

Ukraine lowered its military conscription age from 27 to 25-years-old in an effort to boost its depleted ranks after more than two years of war following Russia’s invasion.

The new law came into force on Wednesday, a day after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed it.

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, passed it last year, but it's not clear why Mr Zelenskyy took so long to sign the measure into law.

Previously the army previously said it needed to mobilise up to 500,000 new recruit, but Mr Zelenskyy said this was wrong, partly because soldiers serving in the rear can be sent to the front line.

Newly recruited soldiers shout slogans as they celebrate the end of their training in Kyiv. Credit: AP

The president said he wasn’t ready to tell journalists how many new conscripts the Ukrainian army will need.

Mr Zelenskyy also signed two other laws, including one that creates an online registry for recruits.

Lowering the conscription age likely would not meet the military's earlier request for 500,000 new recruits, Oksana Zabolotna, an analyst with the Center for United Actions, a government watchdog in Kyiv said.

“There are about half a million men aged 25-27. Some of them are unfit for service, some have left, some are (in the) reserve or have the right to deferment,” she said.

She estimated the new law may achieve about 10% of the goal.

The average age of Ukrainian soldiers, like those on the Russian side, is around 40, military analysts say.

The initial enthusiasm for going out to fight against the Kremlin’s forces has waned, though public support for the war remains high.

Ukraine currently forbids men younger than 60 from traveling abroad.

Newly recruited soldiers who mark the end of their training. Credit: AP

Many Ukrainian men are evading the draft by hiding at home or trying to bribe their way out of the battle.

Commanders say they do not have enough soldiers to launch offensives, and barely enough to hold positions during intensifying Russian assaults.

The Russian military said it has experienced a recent surge in enlistments, on Wednesday.

They have put it down to public outrage over last month’s terror attack on a Moscow concert hall which killed more than 140 people.

About 16,000 people have signed up in the last 10 days, Russia’s Defense Ministry said. Its claim could not be independently verified.

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