Ukraine's Minister of Defense Rustem Umierov attends the awarding ceremony for military personnel on December 12, 2023 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Photo by Yan Dobronosov/Global Images Ukraine via Getty Images)

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Ukraine wants to call up males abroad to join war against Russia

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Ukrainian men living abroad are being urged to sign up to fight for the country in Kyiv’s battle against the invading Russian forces – and discussions are ongoing regarding those who do not “come voluntarily”, according to Ukraine’s defence minister.

Males aged between 25 and 60 who are fit for military service should be encouraged to report to Armed Forces’ recruitment outlets, defence minister Rustem Umerov told German media including Die Welt on December 21.

“We want justice for all, because it’s about our own country. We will send them an invitation,” he said.

“We are still discussing what will happen if they do not come voluntarily,” he added.

“It’s not a punishment to stand up for your country and serve your country. It’s an honour,” said Umerov, who has been in office since September.

On December 19, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy revealed he had been asked by his army for an additional 500,000 soldiers.

The “very sensitive” mobilisation issue is still up for debate between the army’s highest-ranking officers and the Government, according to officials.

In November 2022, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat estimated that about 650,000 Ukrainian men of military age had left the country.

The war with Russia has become one of attrition, experts say, with the need for a stable inflow of fresh troops and resources now being crucial – to some extent for both sides.

Ukraine has a significantly smaller pool of potential fighters to draw upon compared to Russia. It is also dependent on the West for money, weapons and ammunition – aid that seems to be becoming harder to secure as attitudes change.

Despite that, Zelenskyy has expressed his confidence in the US and the European Union’s continued support.

That comes even as the US and the EU are withholding billions of dollars in aid intended for Kyiv.

Russia has made modest yet significant gains on the battlefield, securing land around the Ukrainian city of Avdiivka despite that, according to Ukraine, coming at a very high price for the Russians.

The Ukrainian city, still holding out, is one of the most fortified settlements in the country and Kyiv claimed 20,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the battle so far.

Despite intense fighting for more than a year, Russia has not been able to subjugate the city of Donetsk and use its resources as it wants. Ukraine has prevented Russian breakthroughs in that case by maintaining control over Avdiivka.

Ukraine has also suffered very heavy losses, which are relatively more costly. Coupled with perceived shortcomings in the eagerly anticipated “spring offensive”, these factors are contributing to a rising tide of political discontent within the besieged nation.