Sunday, February 5, 2023

Discipline in wartime

Politico's Veronika Melkozerova writes here about Ukraine's recent legislation to reduce desertion and indiscipline. Excerpt:

The law [which went into force last month] aims to standardize and toughen the repercussions for rule-breaking, improving discipline and the combat readiness of military units. Disobedience will be punishable by five to eight years in prison, rather than the previous two to seven; desertion or failure to appear for duty without a valid reason by up to 10 years. Threatening commanders, consuming alcohol, questioning orders and many other violations will also be dealt with more harshly, potentially with prison time; those who broke these rules in the past may have gotten away with a probation period or the docking of their combat pay.

Those who lobbied in favor of the new law, such as the Ukrainian Army General Staff, argue it will make discipline fairer: Previously, because courts adjudicated infractions on a case-by-case basis, some perpetrators were able to escape punishment for serious rule-breaking entirely, while others received harsher sentences for less significant violations, according to an explanatory note that accompanied the new law.

But soldiers, lawyers and human rights watchdogs have slammed the measures as an inappropriate and blunt instrument that won’t deal with the root causes of military indiscipline — and over 25,000 Ukrainians called on the president to veto the law altogether in a petition submitted to the president late last year.

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the new law despite the petition.

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