Ukraine’s top spy admits failure of forced conscription

Forcibly grabbed Ukrainians have shown “zero” effectiveness on the frontline and must be motivated properly, Kirill Budanov says

Forcibly conscripted Ukrainians have been displaying subpar combat performance, Ukrainian military intelligence chief Kirill Budanov has admitted. Still, the harsh recruitment drive must continue, and no one will be able to “escape mobilization,” he warned.

The spymaster made the remarks during a panel discussion dubbed ‘2024: challenges and prospects,’ excerpts from which were circulated by local media on Sunday. Budanov backed the idea of continuing forced conscription into the country’s armed forces, claiming it was the only way to maintain its numbers.

“It is impossible to escape mobilization,” he stated. There are currently 1.1 million people in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. No recruiting can cover such volumes.”

“We don’t have that many people willing to do anything, actually. I’m not even talking about fighting,” he added, admitting that most of Ukrainians prefer to cheer the country’s troops away from the frontline.

The majority of our people, despite everyone shouting: ‘I am Ukrainian,’ ‘Ukraine above all,’ have not realized themselves as citizens of Ukraine.”

The country has long run out of volunteers, eager to fight Russian forces, with “everyone willing” having enlisted during the first six months of the conflict, Budanov said. Those who end up within the country’s military ranks must be properly motivated, the spy chief stressed.

“Who is being called up now?” he asked. “Unfortunately, there is no good answer here. If you don’t find motivation for these people, then regardless how many people are forced into or enlisted according to the law, their efficiency will be almost zero, which is basically what’s been happening lately.” 

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Ukraine’s top spy admits failure of forced conscription
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Ukraine launched a general mobilization shortly after the start of the conflict with Russia in February 2022, barring most men aged 18 to 60 from leaving the country. The conscription drive has been riddled with assorted difficulties, namely rampant corruption and draft dodging.

Simultaneously, Ukrainian recruitment officers have been growing increasingly violent and lawless in their effort to catch more would-be soldiers, with numerous videos circulating online showing them chasing potential recruits in the streets, raiding public venues and even beating up their victims.

As of late, Ukrainian authorities admitted difficulties with bolstering the military’s ranks. Mikhail Podoliak, a top aide to President Vladimir Zelensky, admitted earlier this month that further mobilization in Ukraine is bound to be complicated, suggesting that the government needs to crank up its “propaganda element” to fix the situation and attract recruits.

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