Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine downplays military death toll to avoid disrupting recruitment campaign: Report

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky statement about the military death count had to be presented as lower in order not to scare off mobilized citizens amid recruitment issues, The Washington Post has reported, citing a Ukrainian lawmaker who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Zelensky’s February announcement that 31,000 military personnel had been killed since 2022 greatly downplayed the true toll to avoid disrupting an already-struggling recruitment and mobilization effort, the lawmaker said, acknowledging that there is a manpower shortage.

“I don’t think it’s an emergency right now. We do need more people, but we need to balance … We see so many deaths and so many wounded. If they go, [troops] want to know how long they will be there,” the lawmaker said.

Ukraine likely cannot consider launching an offensive this year due to the acute shortage of soldiers and the superiority of Russian firepower, the newspaper noted.

On April 11, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a bill on mobilization aimed at replenishing Ukrainian forces depleted by two years of military conflict with Russia. On April 16, Zelensky signed it into law. The document will take effect on May 18.

The bill says that people liable for military duty must report to military commissions to clarify their registration data within 60 days after mobilization is announced. The bill also obliges people liable for military service to carry military identity cards with them during the period of mobilization and present them at the request of military registration and enlistment office employees, police, and border guards.

Martial law was introduced in Ukraine on February 24, 2022. The next day, Zelensky signed a decree on general mobilization. Under martial law, men aged from 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine.

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