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Ukraine’s Zelenskyy signs new army draft law to boost conscription | News

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Law obliges men to update their draft data, increases payments to volunteers and adds new punishments for draft dodging.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed into law a bill overhauling army mobilisation rules as Ukraine seeks to address acute troop shortages in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

The law will come into force a month after its publication on Ukraine’s parliamentary website on Tuesday.

It obliges men to update their draft data with the authorities, boosts payments to those who volunteer and adds new punishments for draft dodging.

It remains unclear how many soldiers could be mobilised under the new provisions although some serving military personnel and analysts have expressed concern that the law will not be enough to address shortages.

The law lacks much tougher sanctions for draft evasion that were contained in the initial version of the legislation.

The draft caused a public outcry, and there were more than 4,000 amendments before the final reading in parliament.

Al Jazeera’s Charles Stratford, reporting from Lyman in eastern Ukraine, said the law was expected to make it easier to boost conscription amid fears that Russia could launch a new offensive in the coming months.

“Western intelligence agencies and the Ukrainian military say they expect the Russian forces to mount what is being described as ‘a concerted push’ in the next few weeks, certainly by early summer,” he said.

“This is very important when we already know that Ukraine is suffering a severe manpower shortage,” he said.

Draft age lowered

Zelenskyy recently signed a separate law cutting the draft age to 25 from 27 to try to secure more fighting power.

Ukraine began mobilisation immediately after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. The country initially saw a significant influx of volunteer fighters, but numbers later plunged, and thousands of cases of draft evasion have been reported since.

Kyiv’s troops are facing a shortage of ammunition as vital funding from the United States has been blocked by Republicans in Congress for months and the European Union is failing to deliver munitions on time while Russian forces are inching forward.

Army chief Oleksandr Syrskyii said last week that the situation on the eastern front had significantly escalated recently and Russian troops aimed to capture the town of Chasiv Yar by May 9.

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