The women of a village took to the streets to block any potential Ukrainian military officials from entering their town and taking more men off to war. The protest broke out as the Ukrainian government searches for solutions to its dire troop shortage.
Tuesday’s rally took place in a region of Ukraine that has generally been supportive regarding the war effort. After rumors emerged that recruitment officials were coming to the village of Kosmach, several women set up a roadblock. About 100 women attended the protest.
The rally occurred as Kiev is struggling to find enough men to hold off the advancing Russian forces. President Zelensky has resisted a plan that would lower the draft age to add 500,000 troops to the Ukrainian military.
Zelensky’s refusal to expand the conscription law added to a rift between the president and Gen. Valery Zaluzhny. Zaluzhny was commander of Ukrainian forces until he was ousted by Zelensky last week.
The Washington Post reports that Ukrainian forces are facing a massive troops shortage. “The Ukrainian military is facing a critical shortage of infantry, leading to exhaustion and diminished morale on the front line,” the Post writes. “In interviews across the front line, nearly a dozen soldiers and commanders [said] that personnel deficits were their most critical problem now, as Russia has regained the offensive initiative on the battlefield and is stepping up its attacks.”
The manpower deficit has Zelensky in a difficult situation. The president has vowed to retake all of Ukrainian territory, yet does not have a large enough army to even prevent the current Russian advance. At the same time, Ukrainians have become war averse and expanding the draft is politically unpopular.