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Ukraine escalates efforts targeting fighting-age men abroad amid war crisis

Ukraine is implementing stringent measures to bolster its military amid Russia’s full-scale invasion. The suspension of consular services for male citizens aged 18 to 60 abroad is part of this effort, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba emphasizing the priority of defending the homeland while still considering individual rights. Facing significant numerical and armament superiority from Russia, Kyiv has reduced the mobilization age and is intensifying efforts to bring back Ukrainian men from abroad, following a previous “invitation” issued in December.

President Volodymyr Zelensky anticipates a major Russian offensive following recent territorial losses, notably the city of Avdiivka, during the winter. The Ukrainian military reports engaging in numerous combat operations, highlighting the urgent need for reinforcements along the extensive frontline, stretching over 1,000km (620 miles). While the US Senate is poised to approve substantial aid to Ukraine, the country faces a critical shortage of manpower.

Recruitment and refugee situation

Public campaigns urging citizens to enlist have emerged, but concerns arise over the effectiveness of voluntary recruitment, given the high casualties and lack of rotation. Criticism is directed at the absence of a time limit in the new mobilization law, potentially discouraging reluctant fighters. Corruption allegations within the recruitment system compound the challenges, prompting hundreds of thousands of fighting-age men to flee the country.

The UN’s refugee agency estimates millions of Ukrainians have sought refuge abroad, with a significant proportion being men. According to the EU’s statistics agency, 20.6% of the estimated 4.3 million Ukrainians currently living within its borders are men. Despite the hardships, a majority of Ukrainians express readiness to defend their nation in times of conflict, reflecting a resilient spirit amid adversity.

A survey by the Rating group in Ukraine suggests that 62% of Ukrainians are prepared to fight for their country during the war, while a third express unwillingness. This statistic marks the highest level of willingness among European nations.

Read More: Over 50,000 Russians killed in Ukrainian ‘meat grinder’

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