top of page

Ukraine's New Conscription Rules

On 16 May 2024 Ukraine’s new rules on conscription will come into force. A lot of Ukrainians, in particular young men, are very agitated about these new rules that substantially increase the powers of the authorities to enforce conscription and we provide a brief resume of what the rules require.

Conscription age has been changed from 27-60 to 25-60. All Ukrainian men of conscription age are obliged to register with the military authorities as being eligible in principle for conscription, including providing an address and contact details, and then they must apply for exemption from conscription if that is what they want to do. The police and military authorities have the power to stop and check any male apparently of fighting age and it is obligatory to carry identity documents, including your military registration documentation and show it upon request. If you cannot do this or you have not registered for conscription, then you commit a criminal offence and you are more likely to be conscripted on the spot.

Once you have registered for conscription, you can be conscripted at any time unless you have obtained an exemption and you will receive a message informing you to report to your local conscription office when it is desired to enlist you. If you fail to appear as required then you will be registered as a defaulter and a series of enforcement measures can be applied against you. One of these is the possibility to freeze your driving licence. Another is to freeze bank account cards or accounts in your name, depriving you of access to funds. A criminal prosecution may also be opened against you, leading to the Police arriving at your registered address and your being conscripted directly from home. So far this has not been happening; the military conscription officers have been conscripting people in the street only. Now there is the possibility of being conscripted from home.

The powers of the police and of military conscription officers to enforce conscription in person will be increased as will the number of personnel engaged for this purpose. Every city will stop cars, buses, other forms of public transport and people in public and private places such as bars and restaurants with the power to conscript on the spot unless the person can show that they have applied for an exemption. The fact that you have not registered at all with the military authorities will be an aggravating factor.

The new legislation will also take aim at deserters, prohibiting travel within prescribed distances of Ukraine’s borders without prior permission (such as being registered as living at an address near the border). Therefore railway stations and bus stations near Ukraine’s western borders will have military conscription agents and police officers present to check the ID’s of Ukrainian men of fighting age and if they do not have permission to be there, the presumption will be that they are present with the intention of absconding and they will be liable to peremptory conscription.

Measures will also be taken to enforce conscription against Ukrainian males of fighting age living abroad. All such men will be likewise be required to register with the military conscription authorities providing their address and contact details, failing which they will be denied “consular services”. This means that they will not be able to have their passports or ID cards renewed or replaced, for example, ultimately limiting their travel. They may be asked to return to Ukraine for conscription, failing which again consular services may be withheld. There has been discussion of reaching agreements with neighbouring countries, in particular Poland, for the repatriation of men of fighting age for the purposes of conscription although the legal mechanisms for doing this do not currently exist and it is not clear whether the Polish government has the political will to enforce such measures.

With such a barrage of new theoretical measures in force, a number of young Ukrainian men have already decided to stay at home 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and not to register with the conscription authorities. They would rather remain completely invisible; but this is a tenuous situation, causing people not to go outside at all and living lives of hermits. Already we can see these habits developing and young men may simply start disappearing from the streets of Ukrainian cities.

Although these measures may seem harsh, the Ukrainian Armed Forces have estimated that they need an additional 350,000 men to fight this war for the next 12 months and that is a lot of men in a country where mobilisation has already reached approximately 750,000. Ukraine is running out of men as a country, in large part because the mortality rates associated with front line fighting are high and people are frightened. Unfortunately Ukrainian men are being placed in the position of either having a high risk of dying for their country or for there not being a country left to fight for. With the Russian Armed Forces able to raise such enormous armies of men that they are likewise happy to lead to slaughter, for as long as this war continues the constant drain on young men is going to be intense.


bottom of page