Kiev is looking to place everyone who is the appropriate age under arms, Nikolay Azarov says
Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky is looking to mobilize another half a million men so that he could have grounds to demand more money from his Western backers, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Nikolay Azarov has argued.
During his press-conference last week, Zelensky claimed that the leadership of the Ukrainian Armed Forces had proposed to him to recruit an additional “450,000-500,000 individuals” amid the conflict with Russia. However, on Tuesday, Ukrainian Commander-in-Chief Valery Zaluzhny denied ever voicing such numbers to the president. Zaluzhny said that the military knows how many people it would require to mobilize next year, but declined to name the exact figure.
Kiev sees drafting half a million men as its “the main task” at the moment, Azarov wrote in a post on Facebook on Wednesday. They believe that “everything must be done to ensure that everyone who is of appropriate age is mobilized,” he added.
According to the former PM, Zelensky “needs this in order to demand both money and weapons from the West.” In this case, the Ukrainian leader could say “you see, we’re gathering an army of half a million. It must be equipped, it must be armed. These are huge costs and expenses,” he explained.
Azarov served as Ukraine’s prime minister between 2010 and 2014. He fled to Russia after the government of former President Viktor Yanukovich was deposed in the Western-backed Maidan coup.
Kiev needs to mobilize half a million men to cover casualties and form new units over the next 12 months, the secretary of Ukraine’s parliamentary national security committee, Roman Kostenko, said on Monday. Eligible Ukrainians won’t be able to escape the call up, he warned.
Earlier this week, Zelensky’s government submitted changes to the country’s mobilization law, including reduction of the conscription age from 27 to 25 and the introduction of electronic summons. Some Ukrainian outlets reported on Wednesday that the bill was going to be reworked before the PMs voted on it in mid-January.
According to Russia’s estimates, some 400,000 Ukrainian troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the conflict in February 2022, including 125,000 during Kiev’s failed counteroffensive between early June and late November.
The flow of funds and weapons from Kiev’s main backer, the US, has decreased sharply in recent months as Republican lawmakers continue to resist attempts by President Joe Biden to push through another $60 billion in assistance for Ukraine.
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