January 29, 2015
The lowest rate of compliance with Ukraine’s ongoing nationwide mobilization [military draft] was recorded in the „patriotic“ Ivano-Frankivsk region. Governor Oleg Goncharuk has already said that there is a large-scale campaign to disrupt the mobilization, thereby recognizing that conscription in the Carpathians ended in failure. According to the governor, there is a lot of criticism of the mobilization in the region and simply advocating for the need to go into the army is not enough.
It’s hard to say what information the residents of Prykarpattia lack, but they are not lacking in common sense — the local press reported that on January 19, on the eve of the mobilization, 26 buses filled with residents of the Ivano-Frankivsk region left in an orderly manner to work in Russia. A whole regiment escaped death.
Overall, since January 20, only 62 percent of conscripts have received their draft notices. Some of them simply do not open their doors to the authorities, so military officers have started going to factories and offices to pass call-up notices through employers. Many workers, fearing mobilization, left their jobs. Those who have the opportunity quickly go abroad. Hundreds of teachers at Kiev Polytechnic have received subpoenas — they were also brought directly to the university.
One of the most important groups of conscripts is the unemployed. „For the unemployed, this is a very good opportunity to not sit without work, and go and help their country,“ said Minister of Social Policy Paul Rozenko, with particular cynicism. However, the unemployed are not in any hurry to take advantage of such a happy opportunity, preferring to „sit without work“ — and so they are now being rounded up at employment centers.
Given the extremely low motivation for conscripts, the authorities are rushing to reassure the population and declare that the army will only call up patriotic Ukrainians. „We must take into account all the errors of the past mobilizations, and today give preference to healthy men who have a desire to defend the country, not those who force delay, and then create problems for everyone,“ said Chief Military Commissioner of Kiev Vladimir Kidon. Thus, he confessed that this entire time people were taken to war against their will.
However, these words should not mislead patriotic citizens who do not want to serve. Those who evade the draft can be put behind bars for a term of 5 to 10 years. „We will submit lists of those who evaded. And let them run from the internal affairs agencies, prosecutors, and military law and order,” says the same Kidon.
In the Donbass, too, the mobilization comes calling. There, however, there is an added factor of unreliability of conscripts — many military officers fear that having received weapons, the recruits will go over to the rebels. In addition, due to the proximity of the fighting, the military authorities are simply afraid to go house-to-house and hand out draft notices — for this they use civilians instead. Pro-government blogger Konstantin Reutsky writes: „And yet another heartwarming touch. In Schaste [Lugansk], where people day after day are afraid to leave their basements because of attacks, those forced to carry the notices of mobilization are … City Executive Committee employees. Why not doctors at the City Hospital? Why not teachers? Why not the students, finally? Brave mobilizers, cho…“
Another supporter of the government, political scientist Taras Berezovets, said in the press that the mobilization is the worst-case scenario — he laments the fact that those called up will be those who have no training and are unable to fight. „The mobilization is necessary, but it must take place correctly. Military personnel in Ukraine who have been on peacekeeping missions in Africa or Iraq alone number more than 400,000. But veterans of the Airborne, Marine Corps and Special Forces in Ukraine number more than 800,000. That is, collectively, there are more than 1 million people who can fight. But first we must collect them intelligently. We do not need a million in the service at the same time; according to the military, to carry out a full rotation, 104,000 people is sufficient,“ says Berezovets. However, he forgot to report that the flow of volunteers from among the professional military has almost dried up — those who wanted to go have already signed up. The professional patriots, who continue to incite hatred and war far from the front, do not join the army.
The mobilization takes place amid growing protests against conscription. The protesting is mostly done by women — men who might be drafted prefer to hide. One of the protests of mothers and wives was held in the village of Belovodsk, Lugansk. The authorities came, accompanied by the protection of machine gunners, to explain the „policy of the party“ to the participants. However, the villagers answered that they did not vote for Poroshenko and do not want to die for the interests of Kolomoisky.
Social networks have also responded to the mobilization with memes entitled „Elusive Battalion,” in which, apparently, the children of high-ranking officials, parliamentary deputies, politicians and businessmen serve.
Thus, even pro-government politicians and analysts say that the current mobilization has failed. Some people will not come to the draft board, and others desert after conscription. And a few more drops are added in a crowded bowl of popular discontent.
Translation by Greg Butterfield