Ukraine Widens Draft Trying to Stave Off Defeat

Ukrainian recruiting station in Kiev looking for more cannon fodder for the proxy war
Ukrainian recruiting station in Kiev looking for more cannon fodder for the proxy war.

By David Sole

The government of Ukraine has lowered the draft age in a desperate attempt to replace the terrible losses it has suffered on the battlefield in its conflict with the Russian Federation. The military situation in recent months has the Ukrainians retreating under the grinding pressure of more numerous and better armed Russian troops.

For the past two years, since the beginning of the Special Military Operation launched by Russia on February 24, 2022, the Western media have worked to convince public opinion that Ukraine was winning the war. This public relations campaign was necessary to justify having the U.S. and European nations send hundreds of billions of dollars in military and financial aid to shore up the Zelensky regime.

It also was and continues to be necessary to hide the fact that it was the West, in particular the United States, that instigated and promoted this brutal proxy war in the first place.

The U.S. led NATO military alliance has, for decades, been expanding its membership with the goal of surrounding the Russian Federation. The Baltic States and most Eastern European nations have been brought into NATO, allowing U.S. troops and weapons to encircle Russia. Only Ukraine remained.

Russia, which had recognized Ukrainian independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, had not interfered in Ukrainian affairs but had long made it clear that it would not allow NATO bases to be set up in this large nation bordering it to its west.

In 2014 the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency coordinated the “Maidan” uprising which drove out the elected Ukrainian president with the help of Ukrainian pro-Nazi militias. With a new, anti-Russian compliant regime established, Ukraine began a war on the large Russian speaking population in the former Soviet republic. Ethnic Russians in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces fought back and declared themselves independent “Peoples’ Republics.”

To put an end to the fighting Russia and several European governments reached agreements that guaranteed the rights of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples’ Republics to autonomy while they still remained as part of Ukraine. These were the Minsk I and Minsk II accords of 2015.

But fighting continued for the next 8 years while the U.S. and NATO built up the Ukrainian army with training and weapons. It is estimated that 15,000 Ukrainians, mainly ethnic Russians, were killed in those years. In fact, it was publicly admitted by Western leaders that they never intended to honor the Minsk Accords but instead were using them to buy time to build up the Ukrainian military. Top U.S. officials also admitted that they wanted Ukraine to fight Russia as a means of weakening it.

The plans for a proxy war did come true but the outcome is not what the imperialist West intended. Russia is winning the war and this fact cannot be hidden from the public any longer. A Politico headline of April 4 said it all: “Ukraine is at great risk of its front lines collapsing.”

A New York Times report of April 5 warned that “Dwindling ammunition stocks pose grave threat to Ukraine.”  A Ukrainian captain at the front lines admitted “artillery decides battles. Who has more, wins.” It is the Russians who have a huge advantage in artillery shells and guns according to all sources. Funding isn’t even the biggest problem as the U.S. and NATO nations have transferred most of their available weaponry already to Ukraine and cannot ramp up production in short order.

Unable to win on the battlefield, Ukraine has been carrying out dramatic, but militarily insignificant, attacks on the Russian Belgorod province on Ukraine’s northern border. Short of artillery shells at the front, Ukraine was reported to have fired 20,000 shells into Russian cities in three days according to the TASS News Agency on April 5.

Desperation is also driving Ukraine to the dangerous tactic of attacking the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant with drones. Inspectors from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency reported that “at least three drones detonated at the plant on Sunday [April 7]…One strike left scorch marks on the roof of the containment building housing one of the plant’s six nuclear reactors…”

Even more problematic for Ukraine than the lack of munitions is the lack of soldiers to keep fighting and dying in this proxy war. Ukraine has never admitted to the extent of its losses in killed and wounded. Any figures given out by the Ukrainian government are wild underestimates. But Russia’s Minister of Defense, General Sergey Shoigu, told the press that “Ukrainian forces have lost more than 80,000 troops since the beginning of the year.” General Shoigu said that “More than 14,000 pieces of military hardware have also been destroyed…including 1,200 tanks.” Russian estimates have often been confirmed in later Western press reviews.

Unable to fill its thinning front line ranks, Ukraine lowered its draft age. On April 2 President Zelensky signed the measure which reduced eligibility from age 27 to age 25. Some medical exemptions were also eliminated.

It is unlikely that the new measures will be able to fill the exhausted ranks of the Ukrainian army facing heavy pressure from Russian forces on many fronts. It will take months of training to get these fresh troops into the field. The relatively high draft age reflects the demographic problems of Ukraine. According to the New York Times “Ukraine has a small generation of 20-year-olds, because birthrates plummeted during the deep economic depression of the 1990s [when Ukraine became independent and capitalist]. Because of this demographic trough, the country has three times as many men in their 40s as in their 20s.” Waning support for the war inside Ukraine makes the lowering of the draft age “a very unpopular decision” according to an opposition member of parliament in Kiev. “Small anti-draft protests had broken out before the new laws were passed” according to the Times report.

Unfortunately the leaders of Ukraine, dependent and subservient to the U.S. and NATO, have shown no willingness to try to negotiate an end to their proxy war. That leaves only the grim prospect of further loss of life and destruction in their country as Russia presses forward toward battlefield success.

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