Zelensky rallies fresh troops to combat Russia

Zelensky rallies fresh troops to combat Russia

With parliament blocked, the Ukrainian president has taken action to address the urgent need for fresh forces in the army. The ongoing conflict with Russia has left the Ukrainians fighting with thinned ranks for months, as new offensives continue to pose a threat. The parliament in Kiev was tasked with laying the foundations for mobilizing additional forces but has not made progress due to a stalled law. In response, President Zelenskiy has decided to lower the minimum age for front-line deployment, create an electronic register, and clarify criteria for suitability.

Zelenskiy’s move comes as a surprise as he had previously avoided taking a clear stance on the unpopular issue. However, the demands from the army leadership for around 500,000 additional men at the end of 2023 prompted action. The need for fresh forces is essential to replace losses, enable rotations at the front, and eventually allow for larger counterattacks. The mobilization of such a large number of people is socially explosive and poses challenges including costs and determining the number of additional forces required.

The introduction of laws to lower the minimum deployment age to 25 years is controversial but necessary to address the aging population within the army. Questions remain regarding the precise number of additional troops needed and other aspects of the laws. The complexity of the legislation has delayed parliamentary approval as over 4,200 amendments have been made. Despite the challenges, the urgency of strengthening the forces on the front is clear as the situation remains unstable and the threat of a Russian summer offensive looms.

While military experts and commentators acknowledge the importance of Zelenskiy’s actions, they express concerns about the timing and the need for rapid training and equipping of new forces. The continued attacks from Russia, including the fall of the first line of defense near Avdiivka and bombing of Kharkiv, highlight the pressing need for additional ammunition and soldiers to hold new defensive positions. The warnings of further setbacks emphasize the critical nature of strengthening Ukraine’s forces to maintain the defense against ongoing offensives.

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