Ukraine Now Faces Same Glaring Problem That Russia Has

  • Ukraine's Security Service blocked more than two dozen Telegram channels that were allegedly helping people avoid mobilization.
  • The news comes after a previous report said Ukraine is facing increasing military recruitment issues.
  • People of military age have been using measures such as sham marriages and medical exemptions to avoid enlistment, but that has been decreasing due to prosecutions.
  • Russia's military has also been facing recruitment issues since the beginning of the war and called up over 300,000 soldiers last September.

According to recent reports, Ukraine has recently begun experiencing some military recruitment issues, a problem that has plagued Russia since the start of its war in Ukraine.

On Wednesday, Ukraine's Security Service (SBU) announced it had blocked 26 Telegram channels that were allegedly helping people of military age avoid mobilization. The news came following a February 26 report The Economist that said, "Ukraine has visibly stepped up mobilization activities in the first two months of this year."

The Economist further detailed that mobilization in Ukraine has become increasingly aggressive with reports of draft notices being issued at military funerals and officials patrolling ski resorts for people avoiding enlistment summons.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's military has struggled to fill its ranks ever since the country began its invasion of Ukraine more than a year ago. After Putin first denied using conscripts in the war, his defense ministry acknowledged last March admitted some conscripts had been sent into the conflict.

In September, Russia called up more than 300,000 former soldiers with its first mobilization since World War II. As a result, more than 370,000 Russians fled the country in the two weeks that followed Putin's mobilization decree.

Ukrainian troops
In this photo, Ukrainian servicemen are seeing operating fire a 105mm howitzer near the city of Bakhmut, on March 8, 2023, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Recent reports suggest Ukraine has been having some issues mobilizing troops for its defenses in the war with Russia. Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP) (Photo by ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images

The SBU's announcement regarding the shutdown of the Telegram channels said the accounts were giving information about the presence of military enlistment officers in various communities to allow people of draft age to avoid being presented with enlistment summons.

The Security Service added that administrators of the Telegram channels were alerted that they were suspected of engaging in criminal activity and could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

The Economist wrote in its story that mobilization in Ukraine has been ongoing since the start of the war, but now there's a difference in who is being enlisted.

"In the first wave most of the recruits were voluntary; queues outside draft offices were a frequent sight. Now officials are recruiting from a much less enthusiastic crowd," the magazine wrote.

The heavy casualty rates that have been sustained during fighting in places like Bakhmut were cited as one reason why Ukraine's military is seeking more enlistments. Another reason mentioned by The Economist is that Ukraine's military needs more troops to operate the influx of weapons being provided by Western allies.

Some Ukrainians hoping to avoid the draft have allegedly taken part in sham marriages, paid doctors for medical exemptions or escaped to another country. However, The Economist wrote that "the appetite" for such measures "is falling after a series of well-publicized draft-dodging prosecutions."

Mark Katz, a professor at George Mason University's Schar School of Policy and Government, told Newsweek that he suspects "the Ukrainian government—much like the Russian one—is getting desperate to find additional manpower in this high casualty extended conflict."

He added, "Instead of carefully screening in advance for who meets the qualifications for service and who does not, the desperation-mode strategy might be to call up as many as possible and put the burden of proof on potential draftees to make the case for why they should not serve on the front lines, but either in some other capacity or not at all."

Newsweek reached out to Ukraine's Security Service via email for comment.