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Recruiting for Ukrainian army: What's known about MoD's draft replacement idea

Recruiting for Ukrainian army: What's known about MoD's draft replacement idea Illustrative photo (Photo: Getty Images)
Author: Daria Shekina

The Ministry of Defense of Ukraine plans innovations in military service rules. Conscripts will be replaced by contract soldiers, citizens of the conscription age will undergo intensive training, and recruiting will allow the recruitment of motivated professionals into the Armed Forces. The strategy is set to be implemented over the next 5 years.

RBC-Ukraine has gathered everything currently known about recruiting and other innovations in the Ministry of Defense's concept.

During the preparation of the material, the press service of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, public statements of the Deputy Minister of Defense Nataliia Kalmykova, and the Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence of the Ukrainian Parliament Yehor Chernev were used.

What was announced by the Ministry of Defense
Citizens of the conscription age will undergo intensive training instead of mandatory service in the army, and the Armed Forces will consist of professionals serving on a contract basis. The Ministry of Defense disclosed this vision of military personnel policy in the Development Concept until 2028.

One of the points of the approved document is the introduction of a recruiting system for motivated professionals into the Armed Forces, taking into account their skills and experience.

The implementation of the Concept will allow Ukraine to have a modern and well-trained army over the next 5 years.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the objectives of these innovations are:

  • Meeting the needs of the Defense Forces in personnel during a full-scale war.
  • Integration into the Euro-Atlantic security space.
  • Compatibility of the Armed Forces of Ukraine with the armed forces of NATO member states.

When will conscription and mandatory service be abolished in Ukraine

The approved Concept provides for the abolition of compulsory conscription and the transition to contract service during peacetime.

Deputy Minister of Defense Nataliia Kalmikova notes that the strategy is designed until 2028, and there is hope that by that time the war will end, demobilization will take place, and there will be a condition of relative peace. However, the Concept is also designed to address wartime realities.

Kalmykova emphasizes that during a state of war, conscription will not be abolished. The intensive training they plan to introduce will not be a replacement for conscription.

Regarding the transition to contract service instead of conscription, Yehor Chernev, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence of the Ukrainian Parliament, emphasizes the need to distinguish between peacetime and wartime.

"Because during a state of war, the main goal is to have enough people in our army. I believe that the contract basis is more suitable for peacetime," he said.

What is recruiting and how will It work
Recruiting for the Armed Forces is a new tool for involving citizens in the defense of the country. The Ministry of Defense does not specify the exact timing of its introduction but states that this will be a parallel mechanism during times of war.

According to Nataliia Kalmykova, they are currently considering the recruiting tools: how Ukrainians will be enlisted for military service and how their professional skills will be taken into account.

"Recruiting is about enlisting people based on their education, so they can be maximally useful to the military. This will allow us to have a modern army," explained Yehor Chernev.

Evidently, smart mobilization will be one of the components of this recruiting system.

As a reminder, last week, the Ministry of Digital Transformation announced an innovation that would allow Ukrainians who had decided to mobilize on their own to choose a specialization in the Armed Forces, take tests, have an interview in a specific unit, and undergo combat training. The smart mobilization of drone operators will be launched in the coming months as part of the pilot project.

Military training and drills as an alternative to mandatory service
The Ministry of Defense's Concept specifies that Ukrainians of the conscription age will undergo intensive military training to replace conscription service during peacetime.

According to Yehor Chernev, this will be training based on educational institutions, but not nominal military departments; it will be real training for the future military reserve of the army. The military department will be only one part of the training.

The MP believes that even without conscription, there should still be continuous training and skill development in military service.

For example, in schools, instead of one lesson of physical training per week, there should be courses in tactical medicine, and regular military drills should become mandatory. For instance, drills once every two years for all people of conscription age or those who have completed military department training.

The current situation with conscription
Since February 24, 2022, during a state of war in Ukraine, the conscription of military-liable men aged 18 to 60 has been ongoing.

In April 2022, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy canceled the spring and fall conscriptions for mandatory service, and in October, the Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law abolishing conscription for draftees during the war.

However, along with the abolition of conscription, demobilization was postponed. But conscripts who served for more than six months during a state of war can voluntarily mobilize.

Earlier, in Ukraine, the maximum conscription age for compulsory military service was reduced from 27 to 25 years. The law adopted by the parliament stipulates that during peacetime, men who reach 25 years of age will be exempted from compulsory military service.