Nationwide evasion of military conscription in Ukraine shows plummeting morale
Published: Aug 24, 2023 02:11 AM
Ukrainian soldiers operate weapons in Kupyansk district, Ukraine, August 16, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Ukrainian soldiers operate weapons in Kupyansk district, Ukraine, August 16, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

According to German media reports on Tuesday, after Ukrainian enforcement officials searched over 200 conscription offices, the Prosecutor General's office of Ukraine announced that "law enforcement officers have uncovered large-scale corruption schemes in almost all regions of the country." The implicated officers issued disability certificates or listed individuals as unfit for service after accepting bribes. In early August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed all regional military recruitment chiefs, condemning the illegal transportation of persons liable for military service across the border.

This news conveys two messages: first, corruption is rampant in Ukraine, and second, the morale of the people has significantly declined, with a large number of young people resorting to illegal means to evade frontline combat. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Ukraine's population has sharply declined, and the casualty rate among soldiers on the battlefield has been extremely high. Although Ukraine is reluctant to disclose the specific number of military personnel losses, it is generally believed that the casualty rate in Ukrainian forces is much higher than that of Russian forces, with an estimated total of around 100,000 injured and killed soldiers. Although the Zelensky government has successfully mobilized domestic resistance against Russia and received sufficient military and financial assistance from the West, the war has taken a heavy toll on the lives of young Ukrainians. Continuously replenishing troops has become one of the biggest challenges for maintaining Ukraine's combat effectiveness.

Due to the minimal progress of Ukraine's counteroffensive this year and the distant prospect of ending the war, it is widely expected that a large number of lives will continue to be sacrificed in the bottomless pit of war. Under these circumstances, the fear and war-weariness among young Ukrainians can easily escalate, as evidenced by the nationwide corruption that aids young people in bribing their way out of conscription.

Russia and Ukraine were originally brothers, and the most brutal war in Europe since World War II occurred between two republics of the former Soviet Union, which is a historical tragedy. The dispute between Russia and Ukraine should have been resolved peacefully, but it has turned into a brutal war with no end in sight. It is rational to seek a political solution to minimize the damage. Now, the US and the West provide weapons and money, allowing Ukrainians to continuously fill the perceived security gap in Europe with their fresh lives, which is unfair. Since the US and Europe believe that defeating Russia has decisive strategic significance, they should send their own troops and sacrifice their own people alongside young Ukrainians on the front lines. But they are afraid, guarding their absolute security while inducing more and more Ukrainians to sacrifice themselves.

There have been reports of young people evading conscription in Russia for a long time, but Russia has a larger population, making it easier to expand its frontline forces through conscription mobilization. As Ukraine moves forward, its conscription resources are nearing depletion.

Life is the most precious thing, and any slogan or "just cause" that opposes it needs to be closely scrutinized. Young Russians and Ukrainians should not continue to die in a war where each side believes in their own sense of justice and where it seems increasingly unlikely that either side can achieve absolute victory. It is no longer an era where a "noble goal" can be pursued at the cost of lives. The politics of every country should prioritize people, especially their lives. There should be room for compromise between different countries' "patriotism." In other words, innocent lives should not be held hostage by the confrontation of national interests.

The author is a Chinese media professional. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn