The Ukrainian government is desperate for more men on the eastern front to fight the separatists. The Ukrainian president, Poroshenko, has announced yet a third round of general military mobilization, and draft orders are being delivered across Ukraine. Scores more young men from as far off as the Romanian border face conscription into the military and being sent to fight fellow Ukrainians in the east.
Cash-strapped Ukraine is burning through $6 million per day as it enters its fifth month of attacks on separatist provinces. The government in Kiev announced late last month that it would allocate nearly one billion additional dollars for its military assault, while admitting that the treasury was totally empty. To make up some of the difference, the government announced that it was sharply reducing social services and would also introduce a 1.5 percent additional “war tax” on workers.
But bankruptcy, additional taxes, and the prospect of a very grim winter without Russian gas all paled in comparison to the explosion of anger among Ukrainian mothers who were told their sons would be sent off to fight in the east.
Last week Ukrainian mothers berated a military officer delivering draft notices to their sons and later publicly burned the notices. Elsewhere, furious mothers even roughed up a parliament member who had come to discuss conscription. They pulled his pony-tail and smacked him on the head with their rolled-up protest signs.
Yesterday, mothers from Voloka, a village near the Romanian border, flooded the town square to protest the arrival of draft notices for their sons and husbands.
One protestor summed up the contempt for authorities in Kiev:
[L]et them sort out themselves and leave us alone. Over our dead bodies! We will lie on their way and not allow taking our children. Let them realize this and stop coming here with call-up papers.
We did not want war. Let those, who were protesting at Maidan, go to fight.
Notoriously miserable conditions for the conscripts combined with poor military planning by newly-installed authorities in Kiev have led to hundreds of defections in the east, either to the side of the rebels or, as happened with nearly 500 Ukrainian troops yesterday, even to Russia.
Average Ukrainians clearly have little taste for fighting the battles of the Kiev post-coup regime or its backers in Washington. But with its recent reported deployment of 1,000 pound ballistic missiles in eastern Ukraine, the Kiev regime can do a great deal of damage. However, no one has calculated the raw power of thousands of furious mothers, determined to resist the state’s call for the blood of their children.