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Ukrainian lawmakers just took a step toward allowing the country to mobilize convicts to fight Russia

Ella Sherman   

Ukrainian lawmakers just took a step toward allowing the country to mobilize convicts to fight Russia
  • Ukraine lawmakers are pushing a bill to allow prisoners to serve in the military.
  • The bill aims to boost combat manpower while excluding people imprisoned for certain severe crimes.

Ukrainian lawmakers are advancing a bill that would allow prisoners to serve in Ukraine's military and take on Russia in front-line combat.

The first draft of the bill, which was submitted to Ukrainian Parliament on Wednesday, calls for prisoners to be released on parole for military service under contract during period of martial law and mobilization, reports Army Inform.

This bill was approved on first reading with the support of 281 officials in the hopes of bolstering recruitment and giving people in prison the opportunity to "correct and fulfill the duty to repel armed aggression against Ukraine."

However, not every prisoner is qualified to mobilize.

Those who are in prison must undergo a mental health assessment and medical exam. They cannot participate if they are convicted of crimes such as terrorism, murdering two or more individuals, sexual violence, drunk driving with vehicular homicide, or national security crimes.

"These changes make the state more stable and the army stronger in confronting the enemy," said Defense Minister Rustem Umerov in February. The bill has gone through numerous revisions since it was first submitted in December, and more are expected.

Lawmaker Yaroslav Zhelezniak told Reuters that to avoid corruption, there will likely be additional changes before the final reading.

Ukraine's military has been experiencing a dangerous shortage of available soldiers on the battlefield. It has had difficulty maintaining a strong position against Russia's much larger military as more soldiers are wounded and killed while fewer potential replacements enter the recruitment pipeline. The Ukrainian parliament took several steps this week to address that.

Lawmakers passed measures simplifying conscription ahead of a possible mobilization, and demobilization plans that would have allowed soldiers to return home after extended deployments were slashed by Ukraine's parliament this week.

"This is demotivating and demoralizing for the military," one artillery soldier told CNN.

In addition to key manpower advantages, Russia also has an edge in industrial capacity and war materiel. US diplomatic and military officials have said that Russia has almost "completely reconstituted" its armed forces and nearly "grown back" it's capability to what it started the invasion with, even after suffering severe losses.

Ukraine is now not only waiting for critical aid to arrive from the US, but it is also waiting for more recruits as the bill granting people who are incarcerated the ability to join the military works its way through parliament.

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