ukraine war: Russia-Ukraine war: Why people are getting legs broken by doctors

As Ukraine faces a severe shortage of soldiers, its government has introduced harsh punishment for draft dodgers. Men are trying to avoid getting drafted into military in innovative ways. One of these is getting your legs broken by a doctor. Local media in Ukraine has reported advertisements on Telegram which offered “a unique opportunity to avoid mobilization without leaving the country” and featured images of legs and arms wrapped in bandages, RT has reported.

The ads claimed to be able to provide “quick and professional deferment” from military duty, adding that the services would be performed by medical professionals using high-quality anesthesia, RT reported. The ads also stated that patients would be provided with post-injury observation and assistance in filling out the necessary paperwork. Moreover, the ads promised to inflict additional injuries at a discount rate if one fracture was not enough to avoid the draft campaign.

These ads appeared on several Telegram channels in the city of Dnepr, in the central part of Ukraine, but were quickly removed, as per the RT report.

New Ukrainian laws to boost troop numbers
A divisive mobilisation law in Ukraine was passed in April and came into force in May as it struggles to boost troop numbers after Russia launched a new offensive. The legislation, which was watered down from its original draft, will make it easier to identify every conscript in the country. It also provides incentives to soldiers, such as cash bonuses or money toward buying a house or car, that some analysts say Ukraine cannot afford.

Lawmakers dragged their feet for months and only passed the law in mid-April, a week after Ukraine lowered the age for men who can be drafted from 27 to 25. The measures reflect the growing strain that more than two years of war with Russia has had on Ukraine’s forces, who are trying to hold the front lines in fighting that has sapped the country’s ranks and stores of weapons and ammunition.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also signed two other laws in May, allowing prisoners to join the army and increasing fines for draft dodgers fivefold. Russia enlisted its prisoners early on in the war, and personnel shortages compelled Ukraine to adopt the new, controversial measures. Ukraine has recently lowered the mobilisation age from 27 to 25.The law lacks the much tougher sanctions for draft evasion that were contained in the initial version. The draft sparked public outcry, and there were more than 4,000 amendments before the final reading in parliament.In June, Ukraine further restricted draft-age men from leaving. Ukrainian men of draft age with permanent residency in other countries will in most cases no longer be able to leave Ukraine if they visit, officials said. Previously Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 who had permanent residency outside the country were allowed to travel abroad. They will now be subject to the same restrictions as other Ukrainian military age men, who are barred from leaving unless they meet some narrow criteria, such as on health grounds or a government-approved cultural or sporting trip.

Ukraine outnumbered
Ukraine began mobilisation immediately after Russia’s invasion in February 2022. The country initially saw a significant influx of volunteer fighters, but numbers later plunged, with thousands of cases of draft evasion reported since.

More than two years into the war, Ukraine is on the back foot and its top military commander on the eastern frontline has said Russian forces outnumbered its own by up to 10 times, Reuters reported.

A platoon commander had told Reuters in February that just 60-70% of the several thousand men in the brigade at the start of the conflict were still serving. The rest had been killed, wounded or signed off for reasons such as old age or illness. Ukrainian officials have said their armed forces number around 800,000, while in December Putin ordered Russia’s forces to be increased by 170,000 troops to 1.3 million.

“The most important source of Ukrainian weakness is the lack of manpower,” Konrad Muzyka, director of the Rochan military consultancy in Poland, had told Reuters in April. The new law aims at mobilising 450-500,000 more Ukrainians. But new draftees will require months of training before they can be deployed, which in turn creates a “window of opportunity” for Russia to exploit, Muzyka said.

(With inputs from agencies)

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