Ukrainian president signs controversial law to boost conscription

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy signed a controversial law on Tuesday extending the reach of conscription to replenish Ukraine’s forces as they continue to counter Russian aggression. 

The law was passed by parliament just days earlier, and is set to take effect in a month. It aims to simplify the process of identifying all draft-eligible men in the country, many of whom have avoided conscription by staying out of contact with authorities.

The law also provides soldiers with incentives such as cash bonuses or money toward buying a house or car, which some analysts warn Ukraine cannot afford.

The signed law was watered down from its original draft. It didn’t include a provision that would rotate out troops who had served 36 months of combat.

Authorities said a separate bill on demobilisation and rotation would be prepared in the coming months. But the delay caused public outrage among Ukrainians whose relatives have been fighting without breaks for two years.

Exhausted soldiers have no means of taking a break from front-line work because of the current scale and intensity of the war.

Ukraine has been struggling to fend off the Russian advance in recent months. Outnumbered and outgunned, it is in dire need of additional troops and ammunition, but doubts about the future of Western military aid are growing.

Particularly important is the future of US policy, with Republicans in the House of Representatives in Washington holding up the passage of a military aid package that would resume funding and supplies for the Ukrainian war effort.

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