Volodomyr Zelensky has taken a drastic measure in a bit to bolster the size of his army as the war with Russia rages on. Ukraine‘s parliament has tentatively backed a controversial bill aimed at bolstering military numbers, responding to mounting pressure from the war-torn nation’s army chief, General Valeriy Zaluzhnyi.
The move comes as the Ukrainian military grapples with the urgent need to reinforce its ranks and provide relief for soldiers stationed at the front lines fighting against Russia, nearly two years into the bitter conflict.
After initially refusing to debate the bill last month, 243 MPs have now approved the measure in its first reading on Wednesday, marking a significant shift in strategy. However, the legislative process to enact the law is expected to take several weeks.
Opposition MP Oleksiy Goncharenko emphasised the preliminary nature of the decision, stating on Telegram: “This is not a final decision. There will be a second reading, amendments will be made to it.”
General Zaluzhnyi’s recent call for “unpopular measures” to increase military personnel was seen as a direct challenge to President Volodymyr Zelensky‘s reluctance to endorse calls for a military draft potentially involving up to 500,000 people.
If the bill is passed in its current form, it would make it more challenging to evade the draft and also lower the age of military service from 27 to 25.
“This is a list of complex but extremely necessary solutions that are designed to make our state stronger in the face of the challenges of a long-term war,” the Defence Ministry said following the parliamentary vote.
The decision to pursue these measures underscores the gravity of the situation and the government’s commitment to addressing the military’s needs as Ukraine continues its struggle against Russian forces.
The second reading and potential amendments will provide an opportunity for further discussion and refinement of the bill before it becomes law.