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Ukraine begins releasing some prisoners to join its army


Ukraine has begun releasing prisoners to join its military as part of a broad effort to rebuild a force depleted by more than two years of war and strained by relentless Russian attacks.

The court in western Ukraine said Wednesday and Thursday The country has freed more than 50 prisoners under a new law that allows them to serve in the military in exchange for the possibility of parole at the end of their service. It is unclear how many prisoners have been freed in total since the law was enacted. Effective one week ago.

Ukrainian Justice Minister Denis Malyuska In an interview with the BBC this month It is expected that 10,000 to 20,000 prisoners could be recruited. Ukrainian authorities said this week that more than 3,000 prisoners had applied.

The policy is similar to Russia’s broader approach to building up its military, but differs in some key ways. Russia’s plans Ukrainian law only applies to prisoners convicted of violent crimes, and does not apply to those convicted of premeditated murder, rape or other serious crimes. The district court said most of those released this week had been convicted of theft.

Ukraine initially scoffed at Russia’s practice of paroling prisoners early in the war. But as the conflict enters its third year, Ukrainian troops are struggling on the front lines and Kiev is desperate for more soldiers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in February that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the war – a figure far lower than the estimate of U.S. officials, who said in August that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in the war. Nearly 70,000 Ukrainian soldiers killed At that moment.

In recent months, Ukraine Lowering the draft age from 27 to 25, Increase border patrols to catch anyone trying to evade the draftIt also passed a law requiring all men of working age to ensure the government has up-to-date details of their address and health. Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said this week that about 700,000 people had updated their details on an online platform.

Ukraine’s urgent need for additional troops is particularly evident because Russian troops open new front in northeast of the country Moscow’s offensive stretched Ukrainian forces two weeks ago, forcing them to redeploy troops from other hot spots along the front and weakening their ability to defend there.

Under the new law, the decision to release any prisoner and enlist in the army must be made by a court. On Thursday, the court in Khmelnitsky released the data. The court said that most of the prisoners who applied for conditional release to join the army were young men. The court also said that many people had relatives and friends who died in the war, which prompted them to join the army.

The move to recruit prisoners has drawn little criticism from Ukrainians, with many citizens and lawmakers saying prisoners have the same duty to defend the country as other citizens. They also say joining the army to fight Russia is a chance to atone for their sins.

The law “gives these men who committed crimes during the war an opportunity to help the war effort and prove that they can be valuable members of society just like the boys who are now defending our country,” said Roman Kostenko, chairman of the Ukrainian parliament’s defense and intelligence committee. This week on Ukrainian television.

Russia Tens of thousands of prisoners They recruited them into the war effort, forming special forces units called “Z Storms” that were sent out to carry out bloody raids with little regard for casualties. This helped Moscow gain the upper hand on the battlefield with its numerical superiority, capturing the following towns and cities: Buckmut, Avdiivka and Malinka In the East.

It is unclear how the Ukrainian military will use the new recruits. Authorities say they will also be assigned to special forces and will not be released until the war is over.

“I think that those who have not committed serious crimes, if they serve in special forces, maybe even on the front lines, whether digging trenches or building fortifications, then why not,” Pavlo Litovkin, a 31-year-old Kiev resident, said in an interview last week. “We should not imitate the Russian way of fighting, but we should manage our resources effectively.”

Dariya Mityuuk and Anastasia Kuznetsova Contributed reporting.

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