Ukraine lowers conscription age to increase combat effectiveness

President Vladimir Zelensky Ukraine has signed a bill that will lower the age of enlistment in the war from 27 to 25 years old, a move that will help Ukraine increase its combat effectiveness in the war with Russia.

The move expands the number of civilians the military can mobilize to fight under martial law. Martial law has been in place since Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

The bill has been on Zelensky’s desk since it was approved by lawmakers in May 2023, and it’s unclear what prompted him to sign it. Parliament has been debating a separate bill to broadly tighten draft rules for months.

A second bill, signed separately by Zelensky, would require men with military exemptions due to disabilities to undergo another medical evaluation.

The third bill he signed seeks to create an online database of those eligible for military service. Both bills could help the military recruit more fighters.

A series of strict measures set out in earlier drafts of the bill were scrapped amid public outcry.

Ukraine’s military faces challenges on the battlefield, with ammunition supplies in short supply, critical U.S. funding blocked by congressional Republicans for months, and the European Union failing to deliver promised ammunition on time.

The presidential office did not immediately announce the signing of the bill on the age of enlistment, and the parliament simply updated the bill’s entry on its website to read: “Returned for signature by the President of Ukraine.”

Zelensky said late last year that he would sign the bill only if there were strong enough reasons to do so.

The Ukrainian leader said in December military proposal Mobilizing up to 500,000 Ukrainians to join the armed forces, he said was a requirement of the commander of the armed forces at the time.

Ukraine has since changed the head of its armed forces, with new commander-in-chief Alexander Silsky saying last week that the figure was no longer current and had been “significantly reduced” following a review of resources.

Zelensky has warned that Russia may be planning another offensive in the coming months, while Kiev’s military has been stepping up efforts to build strong defenses along its vast frontline.

With the initial shock of the invasion long gone, the flow of Ukrainian volunteer fighters was significantly reduced, and numerous cases of desertion were reported.

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