A Ukrainian soldier flashes the “V for victory” sign as a convoy of Ukrainian armoured personnel carriers (APC) passes through the eastern Ukrainian city of Konstantinovka, in the Donetsk region, on July 21, 2014.
Additional reservists will be called up to reinforce servicemen fighting Kremlin-backed mercenaries and their proxies in eastern Ukraine after parliament on July 22 passed a bill on “partial military mobilization.”
Adopted by a simple majority of 232 lawmakers, the specific draft notice will take place in all 24 regions of Ukraine and the capital city of Kyiv, and last for 45 days once the law enters into force.
Introducing the bill, which was submitted to parliament by President Petro Poroshenko on July 21, National Security and Defense Council Secretary Andriy Parubiy said it would mobilize an additional 15 combat and 44 combat-support units for the government’s antiterrorist operation in Ukraine’s east, arguing that continued Russian aggression necessitates the move.
Their length of service wasn’t disclosed, but military expert Valentyn Bardrak has told Yurligazakon, a legal web portal, that they could serve until the conflict ends or indefinitely if it exacerbates.
“Russia continues its policy of escalating the armed confrontation… It is necessary to push the Russian occupants out of Ukraine,” Parubiy told parliament. He estimated that some 41,000 Russian troops, equipped with 150 tanks, 500 artillery systems and almost 1,400 armored vehicles are currently amassed along Ukraine’s border.
During a question-and-answer session prior to the vote, Parubiy stated that reserve officers and those with higher military educational or military service experience would be called up in areas where they are needed.
This is the third call-up since the armed conflict in Ukraine’s two easternmost regions began. The first took place on March 17 and the second on May 6, according to the National Security and Defense Council. Combined, they yielded 53 military combat units and 18 other military formations.
Also, parliament on July 22 increased the military service age for reservists to 60 years. Thus, the age limit for privates and non-commissioned officers is 60 years, and 65 for senior officers.
Speaking on July 21 following the bill’s submission to parliament, Presidential Administration spokesman Hennadiy Zubko said partial mobilization does not stipulate a rotation of forces engaged in the government’s anti terrorist operation in eastern Ukraine but a reinforcement of those currently out in the field.
“There will be additional recruitments. A rotation is not on the current agenda… The situation in the East is such: we are practically mounting an offensive and it would be a lie to say that we are planning a rotation,” he told Channel 5 TV, according to Interfax Ukraine.
That same evening, Parubiy gave a different assessment of the planned bill in an interview on channel ICTV, suggesting that a rotation of servicemen “who in some cases have already spent several months on the frontline” will be carried out if necessary.
“We are carrying out partial mobilization in order to gather the maximum amount of people that the Ukrainian government is currently able to equip and provide with necessary protection before dispatching them to the frontline,” he added, according to Ukrainska Pravda.
Previous waves of mobilization have provoked mixed feelings from the population, with many expecting those dispatched to the conflict zone to return after the mandated 45-day period of service was through. A large proportion of the army contingent fighting in Ukraine’s east has not been rotated since the armed conflict began some three months ago.
Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have been killed since the armed conflict in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts began in mid-April, and Russia has been accused by Kyiv of supplying the pro-Russian insurgents fighting government forces there with weapons and personnel.
On July 21, spokesman for Ukraine’s Security Council Andriy Lysenko said that an extra 100 Russian military units had been added to the contingent massed at the border with Ukraine. The Defense Ministry, meanwhile, reported that Russia was continuing to fire at Ukrainian positions from its side of the border.
Kyiv Post staff writer Matthew Luxmoore can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kyiv Post editor Mark Rachkevych contributed reporting and can be reached at email@example.com.