Ukraine fathers of large families are not sent to war


Eastern Europe


A father and his child who fled Ukraine to Belgium after Russia's invasion. Photo EPA, Stephanie Lecocq

Ukrainian fathers with three or more children (under 18) will be dismissed from military service.

That is decided by the country’s parliament Verkovna Rada, according to the Ukrainian news website HB.

The bill’s author, MP Oleksiy Goncharenko, said that it is currently waiting for President Volodymyr Zelensky’s signature. Goncharenko also told HB that fathers with large families “should have the right to demobilisation”, if they are in the army at the moment. As quoted in a recent Facebook post: “In the first days of a full-scale invasion, many men were mobilised to the ranks of the Armed Forces. They had the right to invoke their own will, but in practice, it did not work everywhere. And some, understanding the colossal danger that was hanging over the state, consciously refused to postpone – and too mobilised. But now they have to return to their large family,” he said.

Poor health

At this time, servicemen can only be released if the war ends and for exceptions such as poor health or caring for disabled family members, according to another HB report.

While the proposed law is a promising step, life remains difficult for all family sizes. Liubov and Victor Polishchuk, told the New York Times (NYT) that their son, Oleksii, had been a defence volunteer early in the war. Now he’s been sent to the eastern territories, where the most intense fighting is seen. The 39-year-old previously worked on windows and doors to feed his wife and 3-year-old son. When the war broke out, his workplace shuttered, leaving him with fighting on the front lines. Oleksii’s parents do hear from him on the phone, but only when he has entered safe zones. One thing remains certain throughout the patchy communication. Fighting for months has left a heavy psychological toll on his family.

“Someone has to go there,” Victor Polischuk, said in the article. “Obviously, we would want him to be here, but it doesn’t depend on us. We can only hope that everything will be good.”



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