Ukraine Army Drafts Disabled Man With No Arms

While the Ukraine civil war, which just last summer was the biggest market-moving event and media discussion topic, has faded into the collective subconsciousness, for residents on both sides of the proxy conflict it continues to be an all too real and tragic event.

As Sputnik reports, Ukraine's sixth wave of mobilization, launched on June 18 in connection with Kiev's continuing military operation against independence supporters in Donbass, is set to continue until mid-August. Ukrainian authorities had plans to call up between 100,000-150,000 men to the military in 2015, with President Poroshenko signing a decree in March extending the army's size to 250,000 personnel. Last week, the General Staff of the country's Armed Forces extended the period of service for the third wave of mobilization, conscripts who were called up last September, to October 31.

But while tragic, the ongoing collapse of yet another state which the US State Department decided to convert into a proxy warzone to engage Russia, recently turned into a grotesque farce for Anatoliy Lyubimov, a resident of central Ukraine's Kozyatinskiy district, who recently received a draft notice mobilizing him to join the Ukraine army in its ongoing war with the Donetsk separatists. The reason: Anatoliy is disabled and has no arms.

According to Ukraine's Korrespondent.net, Anatoliy's mother Tatyana described her bewilderment when she came home to find the draft notice. "I come home, and see that a draft notice has come. I said to Tolya, 'you're being summoned to the enlistment office'. I felt such a sense of anxiety for the country at that moment, thinking 'look who they're calling up now.'"

Anatoliy assumed that the notice was a joke: he had lost his arms nine years ago, and was personally acquainted with the local commissioner, who he said knew about his disability. 

Nevertheless, having received the notice, Anatoliy decided that he would turn up at the enlistment office.

Authorities at the draft office were forced to apologize for the ridiculous mistake. "We send out draft notices to people in connection with the sixth wave of mobilization," deputy commissar of the Kozyatinskiy enlistment office Leonid Shkur told reporters. Anatoliy demanded that the enlistment office get its affairs in order, and stop sending summons for service to people who are clearly unable to serve.

The medical commission, which decides if a person is fit for military service, annulled the summons. "My draft notice was immediately taken away, so that no one ever sees it again. It was annulled," Anatoliy added.

While grotesque, Anatoliy's experience captures the real tragedy of ongoing military conflict and understandably, each new wave of Kiev's mobilization effort has met with mass resistance from the country's young men. According to Sputnik, dodging the draft, including by hiding from officials in relatives' homes and fleeing abroad (mainly to Russia, where an estimated 1.3 million potential conscripts were earlier estimated to reside), has turned into a mass phenomenon. Authorities have reacted by threatening harsh jail terms for the draft dodgers, and by expanding the draft age to include men up to 60 years of age.

The necessity to draft young men to serve in an unpopular war has led to problems for the military itself. As Ukrainian news hub Vesti reported last month, over 10,000 conscripts have deserted from the Ukrainian army since the beginning of the conflict in April 2014. Moreover, an analysis by French magazine Nations Presse suggested that some 50,000 conscripts are actually incapable of combat for medical reasons, with many of the rest effectively serving as "cannon fodder" due to lack of proper training. Earlier this week, an entire tank battalion hit the news after going AWOL, stating that they would refuse to take orders from their command, and urging the president to deal with widespread corruption and lawlessness in the army.

This, of course, in addition to Ukraine currently negotiating an orderly default with its creditors (among which a very intransigent Russia), and desperately seeking to contain its imploding economy, soaring prices and a crashing currency.

So, dear Greek readers, when you lament your fate don't forget: it could always be worse.