Ukraine's Desperate Need for Soldiers

Two years after the bloody war launched by Putin, some soldiers try to bribe doctors to avoid combat. When Putin sent his forces to Ukraine two years ago, Ukrainians rushed to recruiting centers across the country to enlist, ready to die for their nation.

Today, with Russia controlling about a quarter of Ukraine and the two armies virtually deadlocked along a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) front line, that spirit of getting ready has faded. Now, many Ukrainians evade the call-up by hiding at home or attempting to bribe their way out of battle.

The Shift in Attitudes

The initial surge of patriotism and willingness to fight has waned over time, giving way to a more pragmatic outlook. Many Ukrainians now see the war as a protracted conflict with no clear end in sight. The fear of death or injury has become more pronounced, leading some to resort to desperate measures to avoid conscription.

The Growing Dilemma

As the war enters its third year, Ukraine faces the challenge of replenishing its ranks. The Russian population is more than three times larger than Ukraine’s, and President Vladimir Putin has shown himself willing to force men to the front if there are not enough volunteers. A lack of soldiers is not Ukraine’s only predicament, but mobilizing enough soldiers is a problem that only Ukraine can solve.

The Ukrainian Response

To address the shortage of soldiers, the Ukrainian government is considering a law that would increase the potential number of recruits by about 400,000. This includes lowering the enlistment age from 27 to 25.

However, this proposal has sparked controversy and raised questions about the nation’s ability to persuade its citizens to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

The Impact on the Frontlines

Frontline soldiers are bearing the brunt of the shortage. Many are not getting enough rest between rotations, leading to fatigue and increased susceptibility to injury. The average age of Ukrainian soldiers is around 40, and older soldiers are more prone to chronic diseases, making them less effective on the battlefield.

The Plight of the Soldiers

Soldiers like Dima, fighting near the town of Avdiivka, have been outnumbered and overwhelmed by Russian forces. Others, like 42-year-old Andrii, are hiding at home, feeling guilty for not being able to fight. The toll on soldiers’ physical and mental health is evident, with many facing multiple deployments and witnessing the deaths of comrades.

The Legislative Response

Parliament is debating a law that would allow the army to recruit more men, but the measure is unpopular and faces opposition. Critics argue that increasing conscription may not significantly change the outcome of the war and question the constitutionality of some provisions. The debate underscores the difficult choices Ukraine faces in trying to balance coercion and persuasion.

The Social and Economic Impact

The war has taken a toll on Ukrainian society and economy. Families are torn apart, with many young men leaving their homes to fight. The loss of life and the strain on resources are affecting communities across the country. The war has also exacerbated existing social and economic inequalities, with poorer and rural areas disproportionately affected by conscription.

The Moral Quandary

The decision to fight or evade conscription is a deeply personal one, with moral and ethical implications. Some, like a 35-year-old website creator, refuse to fight on moral grounds, while others make deals to avoid combat. The government’s efforts to enforce conscription raise questions about fairness and justice.

The Role of Corruption

Corruption has further complicated the recruitment process, with some evading conscription through bribery or other means. The dismissal of regional recruiting chiefs following a corruption investigation highlights the challenges of ensuring a fair and transparent recruitment system.

The Human Cost

The war has taken a heavy toll on Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike. The physical and psychological wounds of war are evident, with many struggling to cope with the trauma of combat. The human cost of the conflict cannot be understated, and the nation must grapple with the long-term consequences of the war.

The Uncertain Future

As the conflict continues, the future of Ukraine remains uncertain. The nation must find a way to balance the need for soldiers with the moral and ethical considerations of war. The outcome of the legislative debate will shape the nation’s response to the war and its ability to mobilize its citizens.


The war in Ukraine has entered its third year, and the nation is facing a critical juncture. The shortage of soldiers has become a pressing issue, and the government’s response will have far-reaching implications. Ukraine must find a way to navigate the challenges of war while upholding its values and principles.


  1. How many soldiers does Ukraine need? Ukraine is aiming to mobilize up to 500,000 more men, but the actual number could be lower due to evasion and deferment.
  2. What is the average age of Ukrainian soldiers? The average age is around 40, with older soldiers more prone to chronic diseases.
  3. How is corruption affecting the recruitment process? Corruption has led to some evading conscription through bribery, leading to a lack of transparency and fairness.
  4. What is the government doing to address the shortage of soldiers? Parliament is considering a law to increase the potential number of recruits by about 400,000, but the proposal is facing opposition.
  5. What are the long-term consequences of the war on Ukrainian society? The war has taken a toll on Ukrainian society and economy, with families torn apart and communities affected by the loss of life and strain on resources.