Ukrainian Mobilization Becomes Increasingly Urgent

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 21 Issue: 55


Executive Summary:

  • Ukrainian mobilization will be necessary to repel a possible Russian offensive in the coming summer, but a draft mobilization law is currently being held up in Ukraine’s parliament.
  • Such uncertainty has a negative impact on Ukrainian society, opening the way to various manipulations and Russian influence operations.
  • The parliamentary delay could discourage Ukrainians, give Moscow additional time to mobilize and train recruits, and deter Kyiv’s international partners from providing support.

On April 6, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared that, after mobilizing an additional 300,000 people, Russians would need about a month to train and equip them. He did not rule out that Moscow would likely mobilize even more later. Zelenskyy added that to counter the enemy’s impending offensive, the Ukrainian Armed Forces must train more personnel and prepare new brigades to replace those lost on the frontlines. This will mean that a large number of reserves must be prepared and mobilized from the general population (Ukrainska Pravda, April 6).

Currently, Kyiv has two possible ways to create additional reserves for its armed forces: internally, by having the military enhance its recruitment and training processes, and externally, by adopting laws that provide new incentives to join the country’s ranks. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has been actively developing a new recruitment system since November 2023. The MoD signed several contracts with national job-search companies to develop and promote a separate online recruitment platform called “Lobby X,” where people can apply for various military vacancies (Militarnyy, November 1, 20, 2023). In February, the first modern recruitment office was opened in Lviv (Slovo I Dilo, February 12). On March 14, the Defense Ministry introduced a new recruitment algorithm. The process will consist of four stages: selecting a vacancy, interviewing with a representative of a military unit and undergoing psychological testing, registering in the military recruitment office and passing a physical examination, and, finally, entering into military service (Espreso.TV, March 14). Some of the most successful military units, such as the 3rd Assault Brigade, are also developing their own approach to recruitment, enjoying a large number of applicants, which allows them to make more tailored selections (Frontliner, November 23, 2023).

Despite these efforts, many experts and military leaders agree that improved recruitment alone will not solve Ukraine’s mobilization problem. In December 2023, Lieutenant General Kyrylo Budanov, chief of the Ukrainian MoD’s Main Directorate of Intelligence, stated that the total number of people in the Ukrainian Defense Forces stood at around 1.1 million. Budanov highlighted that “no amount of recruitment can cover such volumes. Only mobilization is possible” (Livyy Bereh, December 17, 2023). General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the newly appointed commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, revealed in a recent interview that, after reviewing internal resources, the previously announced number of recruits (500,000) had been “significantly reduced” (Ukrinform, March 29). Most recently, Lieutenant General Oleksandr Pavliuk, commander of Ukraine’s ground forces, posted a plea on social media for more people to join the Ukrainian army. He wrote, “The more Ukrainians who find the courage to join the ranks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, the less chance Russia will have to implement its bloodthirsty plans. We have to realize that no one can stand aside” (Pavlyuk Facebook, April 8).

The desperately needed mobilization law was first introduced in the Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian Parliament) in December 2023. It was withdrawn the next month, however, for additional review due to more than 4,200 proposed amendments (Verkhovna Rada website, January 11). Since then, little progress has been made.

Many Ukrainian soldiers and officers have harshly criticized the delay in voting on the mobilization law. Some of them, such as Serhiy Filimonov, commander of the “Da Vinci Wolves” in the 59th Separate Mechanized Brigade, have continually asked publicly why parliament is delaying the law’s adoption and thus undermining the country’s defense capability. Filimonov even speculated that the delay may be deliberate sabotage by some Ukrainian parliamentarians (Filimonov’s X, April 5). Previously, he highlighted the armed forces’ lack of personnel and ongoing recruitment issues as two of the biggest challenges for the country’s military. The commander emphasized that the first priority should be to ensure the inflow of specialists to the Defense Forces. That is why he is also relying on the Ukrainian military to conduct an effective mobilization campaign. According to Filimonov, the army needs to make fundamental changes to the mobilization process. He stated, “It is important to create the conditions for people to go to war where they feel the care and professionalism of their commanders” (, March 19).

In the face of a potential Russian offensive, Ukraine’s military is in urgent need of reserves along the frontlines. According to Rada member Iryna Friz, the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence resumed its consideration of the draft law on mobilization on April 6. This includes looking at restrictions for those who evade military service. The restrictions had been previously rejected, but parliament is now discussing returning certain provisions, such as denying consular services without military registration. The Rada is also discussing introducing new incentives to join the military. They have proposed increasing military salaries and providing soldiers with preferential loans and mortgages, as well as bonuses for destroyed or captured Russian equipment. Recruits will also be allowed to choose their position from the military’s official list of vacancies (Iryna Friz’s Facebook, April 6). On April 10, Ukrainian media began reporting that the government committee has recommended the Rada adopt the second reading of the mobilization bill (Kyiv Independent, April 10).

For now, however, these measures remain proposals, and it is unclear when the law’s final text will be approved. Such uncertainty has a negative impact on Ukrainian society, opening the way to various manipulations and Russian influence operations aimed at disrupting mobilization in Ukraine (Ukrinform, January 18). According to Rada member Yegor Chernev, if there are no unexpected changes and the voting takes place promptly, the law can be expected to take effect in June 2024 (Ukrinform, April 7). Any further delays, however, could mean the Ukrainian military may not have enough time to reinforce its ranks ahead of the Russian offensive. If the delays deter Kyiv’s international partners from providing support, the Ukrainian Armed Forces could face major setbacks.