By Emmanuel Nduka
Nearly two years after its war with Russia which has come with horrific human costs, the Ukrainian army is struggling to find recruits to battle Russian forces that have recently been on the offensive.
This comes as Ukrainians who joined the fighting at the start of February 2022 are still in combat and have become exhausted, while volunteers to replace those killed or wounded are becoming rarer.
“Our units are understaffed. We need young, motivated people under 40,” Major Oleksandr Volkov told AFP near the Russian-held frontline city of Bakhmut.
Volkov who is the commander of a battalion in the 24th mechanised brigade opted to cancel an outdoor training session for new recruits because of frost, aiming to avoid injuries to his much-needed troops.
Adding that “the current situation is not that simple. The enemy is really very strong, very powerful. And we’re doing everything we can to hold him back and beat him,” the Major noted that some people may have been misled into believing Ukraine’s war effort was nearing victory, even as concern grows in Kyiv that Western patience and backing could be cracking.
And despite Ukraine’s summer counteroffensive that employed billions of dollars’ worth of Western weapons, the front lines have barely shifted in over a year.
Russian forces have gone back on the attack since the fall, and were pressing to make gains, especially in the east.
With more soldiers and ammunition at their disposal, Putin’s men have slowly gained ground in areas around places like Kupiansk and Avdiivka, despite major losses in troops and equipment.
On the opposite front, the Ukrainians were struggling to defend themselves after two trying years that have inflicted a massive human cost of troops killed, severely wounded and battered mentally by trench warfare.