Ukraine is bringing back military conscription with immediate effect to deal with a spreading pro-Moscow insurgency in its east, according to a decree by interim president Oleksandr Turchynov.
The measure was being taken “given the deteriorating situation in the east and the south … the rising force of armed pro-Russian units and the taking of public administration buildings … which threaten territorial integrity,” Turchynov’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
Ukraine’s parliament voted on April 17 to “recommend to the acting president to restart conscription into the Ukraine armed forces without delay” in order to “bolster Ukraine’s defence capabilities in connection with aggression from the Russian Federation”.
Ukraine scrapped compulsory military service for young men only this year, under a law introduced in 2013 by Viktor Yanukovych, the Kremlin-friendly president who ended up fleeing mass pro-Western demonstrations two months ago.
Ukraine currently has 130,000 personnel in its armed forces. With reserves, this could be boosted to around 1,000,000.
The move came after Turchynov said the Western-backed authorities in Kiev were “powerless” to stop pro-Russian separatists in the east from taking over public buildings.
The West and Kiev believe that the unrest is being fomented by Russia in a bid to destabilise the former Soviet Republic ahead of planned presidential elections on May 25.