#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. 2023: between volunteers and mobilized


According to Russian media, in 2023: “The Russian Armed Forces received over 1.7 million new and repaired weapons, military and special equipment”. Among the equipment there are more than 3900 pieces of missile and artillery weapons; over 16 thousand units of armored weapons; while ammunition would amount to 20 million in 2023, according to data from the Russian Ministry of Defense. Furthermore, as indicated in the Ministry’s reports, 250 planes and helicopters, 57 surface ships and 617 thousand units of “wearable” weapons and equipment. Instead, there would be 7,200 anti-aircraft guided missiles for air defense systems.

Again from data from the Russian Ministry of Defense, released in the report “Army in Figures – 2023”, the number of mobilized contract soldiers reached more than 640 thousand units in 2023, who are still serving in the Russian Armed Forces.

The Moscow Defense Department also clarified the number of military personnel serving in the Army Combat Reserve which numbers 40 thousand men. Over 7,000 are currently carrying out “combat missions in the military operations zone.” The exact number of mobilized Russians is 302,503, of which more than half are married and have children, of which 31% have one child. The average age of those mobilized is 35 years. Among them, 63% have secondary education, 30% have secondary vocational education, and 7% have higher education.

In Ukraine in the last month there has been a lot of talk about mobilization. According to Grzegorz Kuczynski, a Polish expert on Russia: “The Ukrainians who have gone abroad will go to the front. The Ukrainian authorities have submitted a bill to the Rada that changes the rules of military mobilization and accounting. According to the changes, the conscription age will be reduced from 27 to 25 years. But it’s not just about expanding the number of potential militaries. The new law also introduces provisions aimed at facilitating the mobilization of Ukrainians into the armed forces, including among those who have fled abroad. The bill provides several methods for serving subpoenas to persons subject to mandatory military service, including by email. For this purpose, according to the document, for each conscript obliged to serve in the military and reservists, including citizens of Ukraine permanently residing abroad, a military registration card in electronic format will be prepared. Foreign agencies of Ukraine will provide consular services, including issuing passports, to men aged 18 to 60 who are conscripts, military personnel or reservists, only if they possess valid military registration documents.”

Recently, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov said in an interview with German media that men between the ages of 25 and 60 living in Germany and other countries will have to report to conscription centers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Tax evaders will face sanctions, including: ban on foreign travel and real estate transactions, restrictions on obtaining a driver’s license and driving vehicles, refusal to grant loans and benefits, as well as benefits and services from the state. The bill also proposes changes to the administrative and criminal codes, in particular to significantly increase fines.

In Estonia, around 10,000 Ukrainians are subject to mobilization, the Police and Border Guard Department reported. In the period from March 10, 2022 to December 24, 2023, 50,337 citizens of Ukraine received temporary protected status. Of these, 10,112 are adult men,” the Department said. Of these 10 thousand, 6,725 people belong to the age group between 25 and 60 years. At the beginning of autumn there were significantly fewer adult Ukrainian men in Estonia – 7,571 people. It is impossible to calculate the exact number of Ukrainian men mobilized in Estonia. The country announced that it would provide assistance to Kiev in the extradition of draft dodgers.

Norway tightened immigration rules in December. In this regard, Ukrainians who are in this country, if they do not want to lose their refugee status, cannot return to their home for the holidays. “If Ukrainians travel back and forth between Norway, this means that they no longer need protection,” Norwegian Justice Minister Emily Enger Mehl stressed in a statement. She also acknowledged that the purpose of the rule changes is to ensure that refugees from Ukraine are treated in the same way as other national groups seeking asylum in Norway.

German CDU politicians want to reduce or deprive social benefits of Ukrainian men who fled the war in Ukraine. About 200 thousand Ukrainian men have asked for shelter in Germany. CDU representatives believe that social benefits for men fit for service should be reduced or abolished. German politicians are calling for a deal with Ukraine under which the federal government would help recruit Ukrainians in Germany for military service or internal security jobs. According to Kiev, every day about 6 thousand men of military age leave the western border of Ukraine. A significant number of them are people who officially care for disabled people, many have certificates of unfitness for military service.

And yet another social channel showed a video of a huge queue at the Ukrainian consulate in Krakow. The reason is simple: a new law on mobilization, which suggests that citizens abroad can also be mobilized into the army. The same queues are observed in Warsaw, Valencia and Bratislava.

The law provides not only for the lowering of the conscription age, but also for the abolition of the categories of eligibility limited to military service. The punishment for unwillingness to defend the homeland will be a restriction on the use of consular services abroad, including banking. Therefore, Ukrainian patriots rushed for documents at the last moment, hoping that they would be valid for 10 years.

Additional checkpoints will be set up in Kiev and a control regime will be introduced, presumably for the capital’s security during the New Year holidays. The SBU, National Police, National Guard: they will monitor the new checkpoints that will soon fill the streets of Kiev. In addition, an inspection regime will be introduced in the capital, that is, employees of the above-mentioned bodies will carry out checks in public places. The security measures will be in force until and including January 6th.

Before this, checkpoints had already been introduced in Kiev where duty cards were distributed.

Graziella Giangiulio 

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