By Svitlana Morenets July 11
‘We have learned overnight that Ukraine has now amassed a one million strong fighting force […] equipped with western weapons,’ saidthe BBC this morning. But is this really the case? Headlines announcing ‘one million ready for fightback to recapture south’ come from a misinterpretation of comments given by Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s defence minister, to the Times. So what’s the real story?
In a way, it’s a basic one: Ukraine is at war, so the number involved in security has quadrupled to almost a million. ‘We have approximately 700,000 in the armed forces,’ Reznikov said – but he means that is the amount mobilised to the military. Then come 60,000 border guards, 90,000 national guards and up to 100,000 police: so almost one million in all.
But this million-strong force is not (as the headlines suggest) about to start the battle for the south. There are other borders to defend: with Belarus (670 miles) with Russia (1,240 miles) by land and the sea (200 miles). The days of highly-motivated volunteers queueing to join the military are coming to an end. Ukrainian men now are being stopped in the street, in restaurants, or even churches by military commissars handing out summonses.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence would like to have a million people fighting to save the south of the country. There might be an all-out offensive to reclaim captured land in the region, but it’s not coming yet.
Svitlana Morenets is a Ukrainian journalist and refugee now working at The Spectator. Sign up for her weekly Ukraine in Focus newsletter here.