Army of coercion: how a new wave of mobilization is going on in Ukraine

Another scandal has flared up in Ukraine related to mobilization. In Ternopil, a man was seized at a bus stop, once allowed to shoot from a machine gun and sent to the front. He stayed on the front line for only four days and died. In parallel with this, there is more and more information that Ukrainian border guards have stopped letting 17-year-old boys out of the country. “Izvestia” understood how and why a new wave of mobilization is taking place in Ukraine.

What happened in Ternopil

Bogdan Pokitko, 33, worked at a furniture factory in Ternopil. At the end of January, he was handed a summons at the bus stop. It happened in the traditional style for modern Ukraine: at first, the military registration and enlistment office staff pretended that they were just checking documents, then one of the men suddenly pushed Pokitko in the back, then everyone together pushed the victim into the van. Posted on social media video this episode.

Ukrainian journalist Yuri Butusov emphasizes that Pokitko had no army experience, he did not serve in the military. “After serving the summons, he was enlisted in the security company of the Ternopil military registration and enlistment office. He stood guard and participated in the distribution of subpoenas. According to the testimony of relatives, once he was taken to a training ground, where he shot one magazine from a machine gun. The family was waiting for him to be sent to the exercises later, ”Butusov reports.

Photo: Social networks

The man, however, never went through any training. On February 11, he was sent to a combat unit in the Donbass. Three days later, he called his colleagues and said that he was in Slavyansk, as part of the replenishment, he was enrolled in the 10th mountain assault brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Two days later it became known about the death of Pokitko.

The story caused a great response in social networks, one of the messages about the death of a man collected 17 thousand reposts. “Who allows you to hand out subpoenas in such a boorish way? Why are guys without military experience sent to the front line? Is this our kind of mobilization? Catch more men and just bring it to “zero”? — wrote one of the users.

The mayor of Ternopil Serhiy Nadal promised to apply to the competent authorities. But in the Ternopil military registration and enlistment office they did not see any problem: “The medical board and the clarification of the data showed that the man is fit for military service for mobilization <…> The incident that happened is not systemic.”

What is known about mobilization in Ukraine

Mobilization in Ukraine is accompanied by numerous scandals. Several high-profile episodes happened in Odessa. In one case, in the city center, a man was knocked to the ground, beaten, and then carried into a minibus. Passers-by tried to stop the military, but they did not pay attention to them. In another case, a man tried to fight off the military commissars by grabbing a road sign. He was stripped of his clothes, beaten, and also carried to the van.

In the city of Kamenskoye, a man fainted when he was approached by the military registration and enlistment office. The security forces were not taken aback and dragged the unconscious victim into their car. In Dnipro, the military staged a race along Stepan Bandera Street. The fleeing man was caught up in order to hand him a summons to the military registration and enlistment office.

Photo: News in Russian

In other cases, the security forces are not so straightforward. In the same Odessa, employees of the military enlistment offices arrange ambushes in parked cars. The footage shows how two young people walk past the parking lot, and at that moment people in military uniforms get out of the parked foreign car and draw up subpoenas. In another video, military enlistment office employees are seen driving around the city in an ambulance.

Mass indignation is also caused by the fact that men of military age are engaged in the distribution of subpoenas; as a rule, one brigade includes 4-5 employees. Often these are recently mobilized, they are given a plan for issuing subpoenas and recruiting military personnel. If they do not fulfill it, then they themselves go to the front. In other cases, the children of officials and deputies become employees of military registration and enlistment offices. Thus, they avoid participation in hostilities.

Another aspect of mobilization is the inequality of conscripts. Summons are received mainly by workers and residents of rural areas. Wealthy citizens have more opportunities to avoid military service. To leave the country, men pay a bribe to border guards and officials in the amount of $10,000. It is clear that not everyone has that kind of money. In addition, from mobilization officially released social activists who work under the programs of Western funds.

Photo: Social networks

At the same time, mobilization covers more and more categories of citizens. So, the representative of the ground forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Roman Gorbach, said that the Ukrainian army allows the mobilization of those with limited fit. According to other evidence, border guards stopped letting 17-year-old boys go abroad, although the law does not restrict their movement in any way. “If you get caught by a petty tyrant at a checkpoint, try to cross the border at another checkpoint. And just in case, plan to leave with your 17-year-old son in advance so that you don’t have to prove your case in court for months, ”advises lawyer Anzhela Vasilevskaya.

Against this background, the statements of some Ukrainian officials look wild. For example, Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the Security Council of Ukraine, says that the mobilization is proceeding calmly, Ukrainians are allegedly rushing to the front. “Near the military registration and enlistment offices from 7–8 in the morning there are queues, everyone is polite, calm. People come to check their data, certain procedures are carried out if necessary, there is nothing like that,” he says. According to him, scandals in social networks are provoked by some anti-Ukrainian propagandists.

What will happen next

Experts say that with mobilized Ukraine plugs holes at the front. At this time, the country is preparing fresh units for a counteroffensive, which may begin in the spring or early summer. The intended direction of attack is Melitopol or Berdyansk. The calculation is being made to cut the land corridor to the Crimea, to complicate the supply of Russian troops in the Kherson region.

Political scientist Dmitry Rodionov says that Kyiv does not spare the mobilized, “they are thrown into a meat grinder to buy time.”

Photo: Social networks

– The counteroffensive itself will be carried out by the best formations equipped with the latest NATO weapons. These units are now being trained in Britain and other Western countries. It is difficult to predict the direction of the counteroffensive. According to one version, it will be the Zaporozhye region, according to another, the Svatovo-Kremennaya region. In any case, it must be taken seriously,” he notes in an interview with Izvestia.

Analyst Dmitry Solonnikov argues that Ukraine still has opportunities for further recruitment into the ranks of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

– There is a lot of talk about the imminent exhaustion of the mobilization potential. It seems to me that these are false estimates. Ukraine is a large and rather densely populated country, there are still enough people there to continue hostilities,” the expert emphasized.

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