18 May 2024, 11:36

Ukraine's young soldiers voice support for mobilisation law

UKRAINE, May 18, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - For "Mammoth", a military drone pilot on
the Ukrainian front, a new mobilisation law aiming to increase troop numbers
that comes into force on Saturday cannot come soon enough.

"It should have been done earlier," said the 24-year-old former lawyer who
volunteered after Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

Ukrainian forces have often found themselves outgunned and outmanned against
an adversary that currently holds the initiative along several parts of the
sprawling front line.

The new law coming into force on Saturday lowers the minimum age of
mobilisation from 27 to 25 in an effort to boost recruit numbers.

The decision has proved highly controversial, with some critics saying that
young men without any military skills and who represent the future of the
country are being sacrificed.

"Mammoth", who serves in the "Kurt" unit, said he too did not have the skills
when he went to war aged 22.

But within his unit, he said, "you can ask and learn, watch and repeat....
Nobody will leave you on your own".

"People are afraid, it's normal," he said.

But he added: "Decisions need to be taken in this difficult period and we
have to fight."

- Fatigue and anger -

In a small village near the front, where explosions could be heard in the
distance, lieutenant Yegor Dimidiv, 24, said he too supported the law.

The former law student said he was "really tired" and "a bit angry because
this has been going on for more than two years".

Dimidiv said he volunteered "immediately" after his hometown of Severodonetsk
was captured by Russian forces in June 2022.

"Almost every day, I have been here in another little depressing village
where you can hear rumbling and pounding everywhere," he said.

"We are mainly lacking personnel," said Dimidiv, who is a deputy commander of
the 59th brigade in charge of moral and psychological support for the

He admitted the law was "unpopular" but said there was "a bad option --
mobilisation -- and a really bad option -- not mobilising and losing
everything we still have."

- 'Worse and worse' -

"Coyote", another drone pilot aged 22, said he thought the minimum age could
have been "lowered a bit more".

He manoeuvred his drone through the goggles over his eyes at a training
ground in the Donetsk region.

"It is better to train, acquire new skills... and go to fight" now since the
situation is getting "worse and worse".

Kloks, a 24-year-old infantryman in the 63rd brigade, said: "Older soldiers
can't take the same physical loads as 24-25-year-olds".

He has been under contract since he was 19 and commands a dozen soldiers
stationed in trenches just 100 metres from the Russian lines.

"Everyone is exhausted" he said, adding: "Without new recruits and no one
left to fight, we will lose this war".


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