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Zelensky risks public anger with new draft plan

Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky

Volodymyr Zelensky has now accepted a politically painful truth: His country needs more soldiers. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s president signed a law that lowered the conscription age from 27 to 25 for the country’s male citizens. For now, a drafted soldier can’t be “mobilized” – sent to fight – until age 27, but that may also change.

Ukraine’s parliament passed this law in May 2023, and former military commander Valery Zaluzhny warned last year that Ukraine needed up to 500,000 more men to repel Russian invaders. In a highly controversial op-ed published in February by CNN, he noted Russia’s “significant advantage … in mobilizing human resources and how that compares with the inability of state institutions in Ukraine to improve the manpower levels of our armed forces without the use of unpopular measures.”

Zelensky, who fired Zaluzhny soon after that piece was published, had been reluctant to sign a law he knew would be unpopular. But growing fears that Russia intends to intensify its attacks in coming months have forced his hand.

Ukraine’s president must now hope this move will also signal Ukraine’s urgent need for more weapons and money from its Western allies.


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