The war in Ukraine has reopened Europe’s eyes to the horrifying realities of the wars of history. Battles fought almost entirely by artillery barrages, trench warfare, mass assaults through minefields; the kinds of combat not seen in the world since the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s, or World War II in Europe.
Another aspect making this war so tragic is another ghost out of ages past – enforced military service of the male civilian population. While Russia has publically announced how many men have been selected randomly for this kind of slavery in for her so-called “mobilizations” – 300,000 and then 500,000, the Ukrainian government has kept draft numbers confidential.
A report from the European branch of the Council of Foreign Relations claimed without a source that the Zelenskyy Regime has drafted a million men and women, while simultaneously making it illegal for any male between the ages of 18-60 to leave the country, and making them all eligible for mandatory military service.
The Washington Post reports that the climate is frightening. Armed men may show up to your house at any time, stop you on the street, or pull you out of a restaurant: all in order to serve you draft papers that would change your life, and possibly end it. The Kyiv Post writes that the Zelenskyy Regime is not willing to leave the drafting up to the army, and that with a few exceptions for wartime industry, managers of government agencies are required to register 50% of their workforce for military conscription – a step preceding the draft, and that any individual of military service age fired from a job that previously protected them from mandatory fighting is automatically enrolled for the draft.
The Post acknowledged a cache of documents leaked by someone in the Zelenskyy Regime that 131,000 men had died in the fighting, with more wounded or missing, 5 times what the regime was willing to admit publically.
During the battle for Bakhmut, the Kyiv Independent and the New York Times reported that the front line was a “meat grinder” in which more than 100 men were killed per day on the Ukrainian side, mostly males forced to fight with little training who lasted days before being blown apart by an artillery shell.
In the White House and US Congress, those who support unlimited military and financial support to Ukraine mostly do so with the refrain that they are supporting Ukrainian democracy: yet this draft regime is slavery, and all its likenesses across history always have been; as antithetical to a democratic state as slavery would be in any other form.
Herodotus, writing history (or embellished drama), decades after the events, referred to the entire army of the Persian Empire during the Greco-Persian Wars of the 5th century BCE as slaves, and of the whole nation of Persia as one of despotism and slavery; always in contrast to the Greeks, who fought because they chose to. The Persian soldiers all marched to war because of the whims of a single tyrant.
While the Ukrainian army was initially overflowing with recruits, numbers gradually diminished as the war went on, and the terrible cost became clearer and clearer. When the initial conscription laws that limited draftees to combat only involving the defense of their towns or cities were abolished, protests broke out around the country organized by mothers and wives unwilling to let their loved ones go to the front.
Draft-dodging, fleeing the country, and bringing lawsuits against military conscription became “problems” to be “reduced”. The Post reports that some men are so certain, based on their age, career, and marital statuses, that they are going to be served compulsory military slavery orders, they are paying out of pocket for private training school so as to be best prepared to avoid death on the front lines.
A military instructor for the Ukrainian Defense Forces vented frustrations as to the low quality of the incoming conscripts/slaves by saying anonymously that basic training teaches them to “sing songs and march.” These slaves receive 4 weeks of training – roughly the 3 months of US Marine Corps basic training – in an expedited form, and are sent in many cases immediately to fight.
Amid all of this, Zelenskyy fired dozens of officials responsible for overseeing military ‘recruitment’ in each region citing corruption.
“During the inspection of the territorial recruitment centers, law enforcement agencies exposed cases of corruption, in particular during the general mobilization, which pose a threat to Ukraine’s national security and undermine confidence in state institutions,” Zelenskyy said in a video address.
“Some [officials] took cash, some took cryptocurrency – that’s the only difference.” Zelenskyy continued, “The cynicism is the same everywhere. Illicit enrichment, legalization of illegally obtained funds, illegal benefit, illegal transportation of persons liable for military service across the border.”
Return of slavery
Foreign Policy wrote in February of this year that Ukraine and Russia have been able to absorb and replace these horrendous casualties through mass conscription, although Ukraine abandoned its pre-war conscription regime for mandatory service for all males. They cite numbers similar to the EU Council on Foreign Relations, around 900,000 ‘reservists’ are registered in Ukraine.
The article claims that in the halls of power in Europe, mandatory military slavery, whether in future combat or in reserve, is now being hotly debated, with some political powers wanting to create slave armies of their own.
Of NATO’s 30 European members, only four, Denmark, Greece, Finland, and Estonia, have mandatory military slavery, but some, including the new EU Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, feels that compulsory military registration and duty was a regrettable loss from the Cold War.
Dutch News reports that “the Dutch defense ministry is looking into the possibility of introducing a Scandinavian-style conscription system to solve the lack of military personnel”.
Italian politician Matteo Salvini, leader of the Lega Nord party which took power recently behind the Brothers of Italy party in the recent Italian ministerial elections, requested parliament last year to reinstitute mandatory military service.
Latvia went as far as approving future legislation to reinstitute the draft despite opposition.
The article admits that resurrecting the draft would require overcoming significant political opposition. The draft is not a means of leveraging a population to defend its country, but the leveraging of a population to defend a state, something which very few people will ever feel compelled to do. WaL
Andrew Corbley is founder and editor of World at Large, an independent news outlet. He is a loyal listener of Antiwar radio and of the Scott Horton Show. Reprinted with permission from World at Large.