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Zelensky signs law overhauling Ukraine’s mobilization rules

By Olga Voitovych, Radina Gigova, Svitlana Vlasova and Christian Edwards, CNN

(CNN) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has signed into law a key piece of legislation overhauling the country’s mobilization rules.

The legislation places a new requirement on all men between 18 and 60 to register with Ukraine’s military and to carry their registration documents on them at all times. The aim is to make recruitment processes more efficient and more transparent, the government says.

Men of service age who are living abroad will not be able to renew their passports at Ukrainian consulates without producing up-to-date registration paperwork.

The new law does not cover any potential increase in the number of people who might be called up to serve.

Neither does it contain provisions for demobilizing soldiers who have spent long periods fighting. Ukrainian lawmakers had for months debated whether to allow the longest-serving of Ukraine’s soldiers the chance to return home on rotation, or whether Russia’s renewed offensives meant they could not afford to allow exhausted soldiers to rest.

The draft law was amended more than 4,000 times since it was first introduced – a measure of how politically difficult crafting the legislation has been. Ukraine’s parliament eventually stripped out the plans for demobilization to keep as many soldiers at the front lines as possible, disappointing many families who had hoped a fixed period of three years active service would also be enshrined in the new law.

Ukraine’s parliament passed the law last week and Zelensky gave presidential approval Tuesday.

Late last year, the leader of Zelensky’s Servant of the People faction in parliament said the military was looking for an extra half million servicemen and women. But Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrsyki said recently any increase in numbers would likely be significantly lower.

Zelensky’s signing of the law came shortly after Ukraine’s commander on the eastern front warned that Russian troops outnumbered its own by up to 10 times.

After the law passed last week, dozens of wives and relatives of servicemen gathered outside Ukraine’s parliament to protest and demand that mobilization deadlines be included.

Anastasia Bulba, whose husband Vitalii volunteered to join the military immediately after Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, told CNN that Ukraine’s soldiers “have been left without terms of service and with no idea when they will be able to return to their families.”

“The country’s defenders, on whom the independence of the entire country rests, have been deceived,” she said.

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