Ukraine to call up more soldiers to conflict zone

Ukraine to call up thousands of soldiers to conflict zone as part of new mobilisation drive

Photo by: Reuters (Archive)
Photo by: Reuters (Archive)

Members of the Ukrainian armed forces ride on a military vehicle near Debaltseve, eastern Ukraine, Feb. 16, 2015.

Ukraine's military will call up some 10,000 men and seek volunteers to replace some of the 45,000 soldiers who are due to return home after serving for more than a year on the front lines in the separatist east, President Petro Poroshenko said on Tuesday.

A February 2015 ceasefire signed between Ukraine and Pro-Russian separatist rebels failed to completely end the conflict that is entering its third year.

According to Reuters calculations based on military data, sixteen soldiers have been killed so far in March, reaching the army's highest monthly death toll since August.

Almost all Ukrainian men are obliged to do at least one year of military service and can then be called up to fight until they reach 60 years of age.

Apart from the compulsory mobilisation, the government is also trying to urge them to volunteer for active duty, increasing salaries to at least 7,000 hryvnia ($275) per month, way above the minimum wage of around 1,400 hryvnia.

Around 13,000 servicemen have been signed up under such contracts this year, part of a drive to build a professional army capable of withstanding what Ukraine sees as a long-standing threat from Russia.

"Next year I am sure there will be further (wage) growth to raise not only the moral but also the financial attractiveness of military service," Poroshenko said at a meeting with military personnel.

Around 250,000 men currently serve in the military across Ukraine. While it is illegal to dodge the compulsory mobilisation drives, some potential recruits have done so by bribing officials or simply leaving the country.

Over 9,000 civilians and soldiers have been killed in the fighting which broke out in April 2014 when Pro-Russian rebels took over parts of Ukraine’s east following Russia’s occupation of the Crimean Peninsula.

TRTWorld, Reuters