Reports say women have joined the Ukrainian army in large numbers, including thousands of civilians, as the threat of war with Russia looms over the country.
Women were drafted into the army reserves and received basic training. Last December, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense declared that women between the ages of 18 and 60 were “suitable for military service”.
The move is seen as a ‘powerful signal for Moscow’, said Ukrainian lawmaker Oleksandra Ustinova, but it was not about conscription but was ‘logical, timely and sensible’ with thousands of Russian soldiers massed at the Ukrainian border.
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More than 31,000 women are said to serve in the Ukrainian Defense Forces, and women of various professions are said to have been invited to register for possible military service. Professions include musicians, veterinarians, librarians and journalists,
The new law stipulates that women between the ages of 20 and 40 can be called up as regular soldiers and those between the ages of 20 and 50 can become officers. However, there are exceptions for women with children, including full-time students and graduates.
Women have served in the Ukrainian military since 1993, including in combat roles. According to a report, the number of women in Ukraine’s military has more than doubled since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea.
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There are 109 women serving as platoon commanders in the Armed Forces of Ukraine with 900 female officers in command positions and 13,000 females fulfilling the role of combatants.
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Ukraine has 255,000 active duty troops and 900,000 reservists who are expected to play a key role if hostilities break out with Russia.
Russia has more than a million people in active service, including 378,000 reservists and 250,000 paramilitaries.
Russia has a gigantic budget to support its armed forces. Two years ago, a report from the US Congress indicated that the country’s military spending ranged between 60 and 65 billion dollars a year, or about 4% of its GDP.
(With agency contributions)