Ukraine lowers age of military conscription to bolster armed forces in war with Russia News
© WikiMedia (President of Ukraine)
Ukraine lowers age of military conscription to bolster armed forces in war with Russia

Ukraine lowered the age of military conscription on Wednesday from 27 to 25 in an attempt to reinforce their army admist the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky signed the bill outlining the change which had already been passed by the country’s parliament.

The new law will result in an expansion of the number of citizens who can be called to fight under martial law. Recent months have seen widespread debate over the age of conscription and how best to respond to increasing Russian military pressure. President Zelensky made a brief comment on the change during a press conference with the Finnish president on Wednesday; however, no indication was given as to the reasons behind the delay in signing the bill. 

The bill now ratified by Zelensky is distinct from a more controversial and expansive bill on mobilisation. Whilst both bills reduced the age of conscription, the mobilisation bill also proposes to limit the available exemptions to military service and restrict deferment for students and caregivers. This second bill is still being considered in parliament but has faced broad criticism, for example, from the Commissioner for Human Rights within the Ukrainian Parliament who had previously warned that the bill may contradict the country’s constitution.

In December 2023, Zelensky stated that the Ukrainian military had proposed to mobilise up to 500,000 more citizens into the armed forces. At this press conference, he stated that any decision to increase troop numbers would be decided on a “question of people” and a “question of fairness.” Ukraine has been subject to martial law since the Russian invasion in February 2022 and has been struggling to renew its manpower with many people of military age now being dead, wounded or working in another critical role. In February, Zelensky stated that about 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the conflict.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian armed forces have faced consistent allegations of committing war crimes through breaches of international law during the conflict. In February, the Ukrainian Prosecutor General announced that Ukraine is in the process of investigating over 120,000 war crimes allegedly committed by Russia during the war.