Ukrainian Parliament Passes Law Allowing Select Prisoners to Serve in its Military

The Ukrainian parliament has approved a bill allowing some prisoners to serve in the country’s armed forces amid the ongoing War in Donbas. It awaits President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s signature.

Ukraine has faced manpower challenges in its defense efforts, urging Western partners for additional military aid while addressing the need to bolster its armed forces. The law enables certain categories of prisoners to volunteer, except those convicted of crimes like treason, intentional multiple murders, sexual violence, and severe corruption. High-ranking officials convicted of any offense are also excluded.

Olena Shulyak, head of Zelenskiy’s party, emphasized the voluntary nature of the enlistment for eligible prisoners.

This move follows recent legislation expanding the government’s ability to issue draft notices, now including an electronic system. Meanwhile, all men aged 18-60 are required to update their conscription information.

Ukraine’s recent law shares similarities with Russia’s approach, where prisoners have been recruited to fight in Ukraine in exchange for sentence reductions. However, Ukraine’s legislation is more restrictive, excluding individuals convicted of serious crimes and high-ranking officials, while Russia’s approach has reportedly resulted in some disturbances upon the return of prisoners to Russian cities.