German legislators are calling for the return of young and healthy Ukrainians to fight in their country. Photo/Illustration
BERLIN – Forcing hundreds of thousands of able-bodied Ukrainian men who fled to the European Union (EU) to return and join their country’s army would greatly help Kiev’s cause. This was revealed by German parliament member Roderich Kiesewetter to Die Welt on Monday.
The lawmaker from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party added that the large number of Ukrainians avoiding military service was one of the main problems facing President Volodymyr Zelensky’s government.
Kiev ordered mass mobilization after the outbreak of war with Russia starting in February 2022 and banned men aged 18 to 60, who could potentially be called up for service, from leaving the country without special exceptions.
Ukrainian officials and media have repeatedly reported large numbers of draft evaders as officials struggle to replenish army ranks amid heavy losses.
In October, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Natalya Kalmykova said that “tens, hundreds of thousands of people” were evading the bill.
Ukrainian media in early November also reported that as many as 8,000 Ukrainians faced criminal charges for evading military service.
In November, Die Welt reported that Kiev was forced to recruit essential workers and potentially harm Ukraine’s long-term economic viability to meet the army’s needs.
When asked about demobilization demands made by the families of Ukrainian soldiers, Kiesewetter said too many Ukrainians were reluctant to “lighten the burden” of their fellow citizens on the front lines.
“The crux of the problem for Ukraine is that, in the European Union, for example, more than 600,000 able-bodied Ukrainian men avoid military service,” the German lawmaker said.