Ukrainian women rally against controversial mobilisation bill

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Ukraine’s lawmakers gave a newly-revised mobilisation bill the first green light on Wednesday despite growing calls for its controversial terms to be changed.

The proposed law has divided the nation and is making its way through parliament as Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine enters its third year.

The legislation seeks to clamp down on those evading military service and will end draft expulsions for Ukrainians with minor disabilities. 

While more changes are expected to be made to the bill in the coming weeks, it has already evoked a strong public response.

“I have a son. He’s three years old. For most of his life, his father was absent. And this has its effects on him. It’s not about stopping the war. It’s about the fact that the guys fulfill their civic duties,” Taiisia, the wife of a Ukrainian soldier, who joined a protest in Kyiv against the bill earlier this week, told Euronews.

“As any other citizen of our country, the guys should not only have duties, but also rights,” she added. 

A soldier of the 12th Special Forces Brigade Azov of the National Guard prepares to fire a 155mm self-propelled gun M109 Paladin, towards Russian positions, 28 January, 2024.

Demonstrators are demanding that military service be reduced to 18 months but the government is considering a clause that will require troops to serve for a consecutive 36-month term before they are discharged. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced in December that his army chiefs would require an additional 500,000 men to reinforce troop numbers and provide relief to those who have been on the frontline for two years already.

In a bid to increase the number of eligible draftees, the government is considering lowering the conscription age from 27 to 25. For Nina, who has a grandson fighting on Ukraine’s frontline, the government is asking too much. 

“I am a grandma of a soldier. The guys have been fighting since the first day, there is no replacement for them and a lot of them have died. The guys are exhausted,” she told Euronews. 

“We need clear terms of service, mobilisation and short terms. There will be more people will want to join the army. They will know that they will be able to return home. Those who survive will only return at the end of the war.”

Antonina Danylevich, the wife of a Ukrainian soldier also told Euronews that her son has only had a total of 30 days off in the last two years of service. 

“Our men should be replaced by other men, they should have time to rest. And then, if they want to come back, then yes. We want the war to continue until we regain the 1991 borders,” she said.

To watch the full report, click on the link in the media player above.

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