Ukrainians ‘reject the army’, draft official tells El Pais — RT Russia & Former Soviet Union

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The country is bracing for ramped up mobilization efforts this month after reforms enter into force

Ukrainian troops tasked with finding new candidates for conscription complain of public resistance against the draft, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.

In early May, a reporter from the outlet was embedded with a military patrol searching for draft dodgers in Sumy Region in northern Ukraine. The account was published on Sunday on condition that no photo evidence of conflicts between the troops and civilians would be included.

The PR officer who organized the opportunity and set the restriction warned: “We have a large-scale social rejection of the army.” The newspaper did not say whether it witnessed any altercations.

The military group was predominantly staffed by veteran soldiers who had suffered mental and physical injuries in combat and were deemed unfit for frontline duty. The ranking officer, a captain named Igor, expressed resentment for people who secure exemptions from conscription.

”We have met men over 40 who are studying at university,” he said, referring to one of the legal ways to avoid the draft. “When the war ends we will be the most educated country in the world!”

The patrol combed a small town. Rural areas have greater mobilization potential because “people in the city are more educated and have more ways to get away,” Igor explained.

The settlement, Stepanovka, has a population of around 5,000. Its administration told El Pais that 25% of fighting-age men there have already been enlisted.

Resistance grew last year following Kiev’s costly ‘counteroffensive’ against Russian positions in the east. A 29-year-old taxi driver in Sumy who has an exemption said he would probably volunteer if his city was under direct threat.

”Among my friends who are fighting, the only ones who have returned have done so crippled or in a coffin,” he said

Last month, Kiev adopted a mobilization reform intended to significantly boost recruitment and which will enter into force later in May. At that time, the entire approach will change, according to Defense Ministry spokesman Dmitry Lazutkin.

”This situation where some people are fighting at the front lines while others are living their quiet lives, is obviously coming to an end,” the official told Espresso TV last Saturday. “The whole country and the whole of society need to mobilize.”

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Ukrainian military has suffered over 111,000 casualties this year alone, as of early May.

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