Opinion

Ukraine’s Deep Manpower Shortage Overshadows Arms Deliveries

A Ukrainian soldier runs for cover during fights with Russian forces near Maryinka, Ukraine, Friday, Dec. 23, 2022.

New arms deliveries from the US cannot compensate for Ukraine’s deep manpower shortage and exhaustion, Volodymyr Oleynyk, a Ukrainian politician and former member of the Verkhovna Rada, told Sputnik.Although the lack of ammunition has been alleviated to some extent by foreign aid, Ukraine’s main weakness is an acute shortage of soldiers, the Western press acknowledges.Since the beginning of the special military operation, the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU) have lost nearly 500,000 servicemen, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. To make matters worse, Ukraine has been “plagued by draft dodging,” with young men evading conscription and failing to register as required, Politico reported in March.”Many [Ukrainian] commanders say that their combat units suffer from a 30-40% deficit in manpower,” Volodymyr Oleynyk told Sputnik. “Entire brigades break the law, violate orders and arbitrarily leave combat positions. Some of them are elite brigades. One of them was disbanded – the one that included the Right Sector*, which is considered very ‘patriotic’.”Russia’s Special Operation in UkraineWatch Ukrainian Troops Surrender En Masse After Accusing Command of Treating Them ‘Like Livestock’13 April, 19:08 GMTIn recent months, there has been a significant increase in the number of Ukrainian troops using the special “Volga” 149.200 radio frequency to communicate their desire to disarm, according to Sputnik’s sources. The frequency was set up by Russian forces for Ukrainian troops wishing to surrender.Oleynyk quoted the head of the Ivano-Frankovsk regional military commissar as saying last month that some 30,000 potential conscripts were in hiding in the region. By 2020, Frankovshchyna will have a population of only 1.3 million. Doing the math, the former Ukrainian lawmaker estimates that about 1.5 million men of military age are currently on the run across Ukraine.In addition, Ukrainian military personnel are increasingly deserting, Oleynyk added.”I’ve analyzed the situation for the first quarter of this year: about 20,000 criminal cases related to desertion have been opened over the past three months,” he said. “In general, it is believed that about 100,000 deserters are on the run. How many cases have been sent to court? Over these three months only 80 criminal cases were sent to court. This shows that even the judicial system does not want to consider these cases, because officials are afraid of later revenge by those convicted.”WorldNATO Troops Don’t Want to Die: Poland and Lithuania to Repatriate Ukrainian Draft Dodgers26 April, 16:12 GMTThere’s another problem associated with these cases: it’s unclear how to house this gargantuan number of convicts, according to the former MP.”Ukraine’s prison system is designed to house 80,000 detainees, but they are already filled with 60,000 inmates. Where to hold the others? Would Ukraine create concentration camps or, as once in Chile, people would be literally placed at a stadium and fenced off with barbed wire?”Given the steady Russian advance, Ukraine needs to immediately mobilize up to 200,000 men, which is impossible, Oleynik said, adding that a series of draconian bills recently signed into law by Volodymyr Zelensky are unlikely to improve the situation. The crux of the matter is that morale is low, with about 90 percent of Ukrainians unwilling to join the military, Sputnik’s interlocutor said, citing a March study by the Razumkov Center, a Ukrainian non-governmental think tank founded in 1994.”As a result, [the Ukrainian authorities] have tightened illegal methods of recruitment and mobilization,” the former lawmaker said. “I’ve recently read about a case that happened in Tulchin, the Vinnytsia region. A woman told journalists that her son, who is 20 years old, was caught [by recruiters] and beaten. One needs to bear in mind that even under the latest draft law one cannot be mobilized under the age of 25. The military registration and enlistment office told the youngster that in accordance with Zelensky’s law he could be executed if he resisted and sent him to the combat zone,” he added.Ukrainians see these cases as a worrying trend, with some of those living abroad saying they are ready to renounce their Ukrainian citizenship to avoid the threat of extradition and conscription, Oleynyk stressed.

"That is, in reality this is a collapse, this is a dead end. People don’t want to protect interests of Americans and the Zelensky gang," the former Ukrainian lawmaker concluded.

WorldA Bridge Too Far? Latest Batch of US Weapons Not Reaching Ukraine Anytime Soon26 April, 12:41 GMT*the Right Sector is an extremist group banned in Russia.

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