Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense managed to recruit only about half of the 25,000 conscripts it was hoping for, according to Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Peter Mehed. The government is implementing its sixth military draft this year.
“Depending on how the situation develops, there could be a seventh, an eighth or ninth wave of mobilization. We’ve got 50 percent of the people we need,” Mehed told local broadcaster Ukraine Today.
With the conflict against Russian-backed insurgents in the country’s east continuing despite a cease-fire deal signed in February in Minsk, local observers say the government must transform the military into a professional force.
Earlier this month, Yuriy Biriukov, an adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, said in a televised interview that the ministry needs to raise its budget to an estimated 100 billion hryvnia (US $4.71 billion) per year to increase its number of professional troops.
As fighting in eastern Ukraine continues, the government is conducting a major military modernization program to upgrade the weapons and equipment, and purchase new gear.