“Someone has to have a gun.”

Rather than going there alone, the two friends chose to go together. On this Wednesday, May 8, on a narrow, tree-lined street in the Ukrainian capital, Roman and Serhiy, 25 and 27, wait with dozens of men in front of the entrance to a military recruitment center. It’s 7:30 in the morning, the doors don’t open for another hour, and the city is bustling. Two young garage workers, who, like the others we met, declined to give their last names, came to their local recruitment center to update their personal information. They will then go before a medical board, which will determine their fitness and fitness to bear arms. Then, perhaps, they will be called to battle.

Like most of the men waiting in the cold that morning, Roman and Serhiy are in compliance with the law creating the country’s forced labor database, signed in April by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The text is intended to give officials an overview of the human resources at their disposal as the country tries to accelerate the mobilization of new recruits into its military.

From May 18, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 will be given sixty days to identify themselves at a recruitment center or through an online application. After this period, they will be subject to fines of several hundred euros and administrative fines. On this Wednesday morning, Roman, Serhi and others got ahead of themselves only to avoid the massive influx of recruits that begin Saturday.

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“There is a front line and men must serve, An officer from the recruitment center, leaning against a small coffee kiosk with two quiet colleagues a few meters away from dozens of citizens, reassures Vitali with a serious air. It doesn’t matter what you do in the army. We have a Ukrainian constitution that applies to all citizens. »

“If we must go, we will go” Roman, a clean-shaven young man with a calm demeanor, dressed in black and sports clothes, sums up the scene. “If we were afraid to fight, we would not have come this morning. » On his side, Sirhi adds: It is better in his view, “Rather than being picked up by the bus, come here yourself”. The boy refers to the mobilizable civilians who were arrested on the streets and taken to military offices by recruiting officers. An increasingly common practice as volunteers rarely carried arms. “I think it makes a difference when you join the military, Sirhi continues. Anyway, I’d like to believe it. »

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