Expert: It will take some time before Zelenskyj resorts to coercive laws

Johan Huovinen, who is a teacher at the Norwegian Defense Academy, says that the Ukrainian defense initially consisted of almost 600,000 men. Of these, around 250,000 people belonged to the Ukrainian Armed Forces and served in 21 different brigades. The other large part was made up of what is called the Territorial Defense Army, corresponding to the Swedish Home Guard.

Around 100,000 of the Ukrainian soldiers are believed to have been killed and wounded in the fighting, and intensive recruitment campaigns are now underway in Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reports. However, Russian losses are believed to be even greater.

Interest in defending one’s country is big in Ukraine, but recently the government has made some changes that may discourage people from fighting.

Ruslan Bortnik, head of the think tank Ukrainian Institute of Politics, tells the WSJ that some bonuses for those in service have been tightened and that President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a new law that puts deserters at risk of being punished more severely than before.

Earlier this week, Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Ukrainian forces in Bakhmut where some of the fiercest fighting in Ukraine is raging.

Photo: Ukrainian Presidential Office

In addition to that, there are reports of inappropriate phone calls to subpoenas and video footage is being circulated that is said to show how people are mistreated when they refuse to obey a summons, writes the WSJ.

Rumors that Ukraine is forcibly recruiting women, and that soldiers have been sent to the front without proper preparation, were refuted last week by Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar, who did say that the military training is taking place within a tighter time frame now.

“Kremlin propaganda continues to spread lies,” she wrote on Telegram.

But that Volodymyr Zelenskyj and his government are resorting to coercive laws, as total mobilization to secure the defense is far in the future, says Lieutenant Colonel Johan Huovinen.

– It is a political decision that he may have to make, if there is a long-term conflict. If he does that, he will also have other problems – people who deviate and you have to start chasing people in, he says.

Long queues of cars at the Georgian border in September after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced partial mobilization.

Photo: Valery Sharifulin/Tass/Sipa USA

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already introduced partial mobilization. In September, he announced that 300,000 people would be called up. Shortly afterwards, tens of thousands of people were said to be trying to leave the country.

There are those who believe that a second wave of mobilization is in store, but the president has denied all such reports.

Despite the fact that the population of Ukraine is about a third as big as Russia’s, roughly 10 million people should be at Zelenskyi’s disposal, in terms of serviceability, estimates Johan Huovinen.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are prohibited from leaving the country.

– My assessment is that the Ukrainians are not war-weary yet. There is a sense of fate that “it’s now or never”. If you give up, you will lose, says Johan Huovinen.

The article is in Swedish

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