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‘No one’ willing to join Ukrainian army – soldier

Kiev has no spare forces to rotate the troops already engaged at the frontlines, a serviceman with an infamous Azov regiment has said

Resistance to the continued military draft in Ukraine has taken some extreme forms, a soldier serving with an infamous neo-Nazi Azov regiment told a local TSN online news media outlet. “Literally no one” is willing to go to the frontlines, the serviceman admitted.

The man identified only by his combat nickname ‘Niko’ said he continues to fight despite suffering a heavy injury and losing his leg in one of the battles because there is simply nobody to replace him. “No one is willing to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine nowadays,” he told TSN.

People “do whatever they come up with” to escape the military draft, including “swimming across the Tisza River and drowning themselves in there,” the soldier said. Niko was referring to recent reports about dozens of men losing their lives in attempts to flee Ukraine and avoid being conscripted into the army amid the continued conflict between Moscow and Kiev.

In March, the Ukrainian border guard service reported the 22nd drowning death the Tisza River since the start of the conflict in February 2022. The river, which is located on Ukraine’s border with Romania, has been increasingly traversed by those seeking to flee abroad amid the hostilities.

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FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian General Aleksandr Pavlyuk (C) stands as President Vladimir Zelensky (R) takes a report from a senior marines commander.
Ukrainian general condemns sympathy for dead draft dodgers

The Azov fighter showed little sympathy for those drowned, though, arguing that they should have gone to the frontlines and died “true warriors” instead. “Go and die like a real man… instead of just drowning like a rat,” he told TSN.

Earlier, Ukrainian Land Forces commander, General Aleksandr Pavlyuk, also slammed those showing sympathy for the dead draft dodgers. Any such feelings demonstrated publicly undermine the draft effort and allegedly play into Russia’s hands, the general claimed in late March.

According to Pavlyuk, any criticism of draft efforts “fails on purpose to get to the main point: that it is illegal for men to avoid their constitutional duty of defending Ukraine.”

Draft dodging has become an increasingly pressing issue for Kiev over the course of its conflict with Moscow. Many draft dodgers try to escape from Ukraine illegally. Around 20,000 people were smuggled across the border as of the end of August 2023, according to BBC calculations. The British broadcaster also reported that attempted illegal crossings were taking place on a daily basis.

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Ukraine’s commander-in-chief of the armed forces, General Aleksandr Syrsky.
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The Ukrainian authorities’ reaction to such attempts has become increasingly harsh. Videos published by the Ukrainian media in March showed border guards brutally beating dozens of men detained as they were attempting to cross into Romania illegally to avoid draft. The border guard confirmed the detention at that time by publishing photos of the men on their knees on the ground in front of the Ukrainian security operatives.

In April, President Vladimir Zelensky signed a new mobilization bill into law. The legislation introduced new harsh conscription rules, including new penalties for draft dodging like fines and suspension of a driver’s permit. The police can also forcibly deliver a suspected draft dodger to an enlistment office should a draftee fail to show up on being deemed to have received their conscription notice.

The measures were taken amid heavy losses suffered by Ukraine in the ongoing conflict. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said in April Kiev had lost almost 500,000 soldiers since the start of the hostilities.

Zelensky claimed in February that 31,000 troops had been killed in the two years of the conflict. According to the Washington Post, the real figures were “vastly downplayed” by the president to avoid disrupting the already struggling mobilization drive. In December last year, Zelensky said that the military had asked him to mobilize additional 500,000 troops.

April 29, 2024 at 03:24AM

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