Ukraine to Call Up Women Over 20 for Armed Forces

An anti-Yanukovich protester dons military garb as she stands guard outside the parliament building along with her comrades in Kiev February 27, 2014. Yannis Behrakis/Reuters

Ukraine's armed forces could call up female citizens of Ukraine aged between 20 and 50 to join the fight against pro-Russian separatists in the country's eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, Vladislav Seleznev, spokesperson for the armed forces' high command told Ukrainian news agency Unian today.

The former Soviet republic has been hard pressed for resources to combat the Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk since fighting erupted in the regions between the newly formed pro-EU government and pro-Russian groups a year ago.

Ukrainian finance minister Natalya Yaresko estimated the war is costing Ukraine $10 million dollars a day, earlier today. European finance ministers agreed to loan Ukraine €1.5 billion in addition to the €15 billion loan programme agreed by the EU and Ukraine last March, as the Ministry of Finance has estimated that the war has shrunk the country's economy by 20%.

However, Kiev is unwilling to scale back its military in response to its economic problems as it is now prepared to extend the bracket for the nation-wide call to military service towards female citizens in a bid to reinforce its national security services and deliver on its plans to mobilise and enlist 200,000 Ukrainians in its arm forces by the end of 2015.

According to Seleznev, throughout the mobilisation period which began last month and will continue until April, Ukrainian women between the ages of 20 and 50 could be called up to serve as officers, while others aged between 20 and 40, could be called up to assist the military in support positions.

The spokesperson for the armed forces told press the personal records of female citizens will be screened and potential candidates for military services will be called up, based on evidence for previous desire to serve in the military, indications that they are of the right health to for army service or at the very least that their profession has given them some "army-relevant education".

Seleznev did not elaborate on the specifics of the criteria, however he did indicate that however many women are successfully recruited into the Ukrainian armed forces, the "majority" of the will be in charge of medical duties, communications or logistical assistance, as opposed to regular combat duty.

By the end of the current recruitment cycle in April the Ukrainian armed forces have set a target to mobilise 60,000 new recruits.

According to Seleznev, near the end of 2014 as an emergency provision around 100 women were recruited for army service.

Yesterday Andriy Lysenko, the spokesperson for Ukraine's National Security Services told journalists that 95% of army call-ups for the current recruitment cycle were completed with around half of the new recruits expected to join the armed forces by April, having already been sent to training.

According to a statement issued last month by major general Vladimir Talaylay the deputy head of command of Ukraine's armed forces, 78,000 call-ups have been sent to Ukrainian citizens over the current recruitment cycle, and 46,000 of those having already been successfully assimilated into the army.

The Ukrainian army consists primarily of men aged 18-60 years old, however, according to Talaylay, any servicemen between the ages of 50 and 60 are not obliged to serve in the military during the call-up but have chose to do so voluntarily.