Ukraine’s military mobilization undermined by draft dodgers

“We don’t understand what we are fighting for, and the government does not inform people about the goals of this war,” said Aleksey Arestovich, a military expert based in Kiev, who added that after a year of hostilities, the conflict is still not officially a “war.” Despite the databases the administration is building of soldiers, their skills and their defections, Arestovich pointed out that specialists are often ignored in favor of funneling more people to the front line, and families of slain soldiers often must fight to get their promised benefits.

As the Interior Ministry starts to prosecute no-shows, human rights advocates are also speaking in defense of the dodgers.

“We can’t win only by the numbers, we have to win by the quality of our soldiers,” said Oleksandra Matviychuk of the Center for Civil Rights in Kiev, arguing the military should offer more draftees noncombat roles. “I don’t believe people forced to be in the army can effectively defend the population.”