Zelenskyy reveals top brass proposed expanding Ukraine's military by up to 500,000 troops
Volodymyr Zelenskyy (Photo: EPA/CORNELIUS POPPE)

The General Staff proposed to mobilize up to 500,000 more people to the Defense Forces, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced at a press conference on the results of 2023.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Valerii Zaluzhnyi and the General Staff raised the issue of mobilization at the meeting of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff.

"The issue is very sensitive, they approached about potential counteroffensive actions. They proposed an additional mobilization of 450,000-500,000 people. This is a very serious number. I said that I need more arguments to support this move, because it is a question of people, justice, defense capability and finances," President Zelenskyy said.

He warned against forgetting about the soldiers who have been on the front line for almost two years, as well as the issue of rotation and leave.

"The new mobilization law should provide answers for the public. They started working on this plan. I have not sen demobilization there, although that is the number one issue. The issue is justice for our soldiers. I would really like the military leadership to understand these challenges so that the best of our people do not become morally exhausted. If we are talking about additional mobilization, then the issue of demobilization must be resolved," the head of state said.

Zelenskyy stressed that a "comprehensive plan" is needed from the military in case of mobilization of 450,000 more people.

"Then they will communicate with the Verkhovna Rada regarding changes to the legislation. We cannot lose stability and potential, but we need justice. Mobilization in this format will cost Ukraine an extra 500 billion hryvnias ($13.4 billion). I would like an understanding from the prime minister and the minister of finance, where we can get this money," he concluded.

On November 22, the head of the Servant of the People faction, David Arakhamia, announced a large bill on mobilization  which, according to him, could be adopted by the end of the year.

On November 24, Oleksiy Danilov, the secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, assured that conscripts whose term of service has expired will be demobilized in the near future.

On the same day, President Zelenskyy held a meeting of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief's Staff and instructed to prepare decisions on mobilization, demobilization and military enlistment offices.

On December 7, Zelenskyy responded to petitions about the demobilization, rotation, and release of conscripts. All three appeals were handed over to Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.