Ukraine Brings Back Conscription, And Once Again We Can Thank Vladimir Putin

In the wake of mounting conflict with Russia, the interim Ukrainian president, Olexander Turchynov, announced Thursday that Ukraine would bring back military conscription in response to its territorial crisis with its neighbor. The mandatory military service is a response to ongoing conflict with Russia, which began earlier this year when the Kremlin invaded and ultimately claimed then-Ukrainian Crimea for its own. Also on Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Germany to pass on the message that Ukraine should remove its military from the southeastern parts of the country.

A Russian statement said Putin told German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is acting as an intermediary in the conflict, that Ukraine needed to withdraw 11,000 soldiers it says the country has deployed in the region. (It would kind of make sense for Ukraine to deploy soldiers in the region, which has been plagued by protests and unrest for weeks.)

... The most important thing now is to withdraw all military units from the south-eastern parts, stop the violence, and immediately start a national dialogue that would involve all regions and all political forces within the framework of a constitutional reform.

Turchynov called Ukraine "helpless" to stop the fighting, according to the BBC. Russia currently has 40,000 troops positioned on the border with Ukraine, which President Obama has urged him to remove to no avail. The conscription requirement was in place until October 2013, when the military was roughly 40 percent conscripts and 60 percent volunteers. A government statement suggested conscription was being reinstated "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," according to a BBC translation.

That's in stark contrast to the Oct. 2013 government statement, issued prior to the crisis with Russia under an earlier president, Viktor Yanukovych, who fled the country amid protests in February. When he ended conscription, Yanukovych was a more optimistic man.

Today is the first day of the last military conscription. I think this year will be the last one. 2014 is the beginning of the development of modern Ukrainian army on a contractual basis.

Unfortunately, not so much.

Who will be drafted? Men 18-25 will be forced into the army under the new conscription decree, according to the Ukrainian government. Southeastern Ukraine has been a hotbed of political unrest as pro-Russian protestors have taken over government buildings. Many of the protestors have been aligned at least loosely with the Russian government, while some have been specifically identified as Russian agents.

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Protestors took over a prosecutor's office in the battleground southeastern city of Donetsk on Thursday, beating, stripping, and capturing police trying to protect the building. It was the last government office in the city still pledging loyalty to the Ukrainian government, according to ITV News. On Wednesday, Turchynov basically admitted he'd lost control of the southeastern parts of the country.