As Ukraine expands its military draft, some men are in hiding

Tymofii Brik, a sociologist at the Kyiv School of Economics, said polls “suggest that the willingness to defend the nation among Ukrainians has remained constant” throughout the war, with about a third of people indicating a willingness to serve.

However, Ukraine’s mobilization has opened up painful divisions in society. Vitaliy Bondarenko, a 29-year-old conscript officer from Lviv, said the men ran away every time his vehicle stopped.

“They see us and run away,” he said.

Many Ukrainian soldiers resent those who try to avoid the draft, arguing that their actions weaken their country’s war effort. “Given the intensity of the current fighting, the army cannot fight without a regular replenishment of personnel,” said another recently enlisted Mykyta, 25, who gave only his first name according to military rules. Denying this reality, he added, “is unacceptable and simply stupid.”

For much of the first two years of the war, the Ukrainian army refrained from large-scale mobilization, relying instead on the tens of thousands of volunteers who joined its ranks after the Russian invasion in February 2022.

But late last summer, the need for more soldiers became apparent, after the Ukrainian counteroffensive failed and Russian troops stepped up their attacks.