Ukraine’s Parliament Passes Bill Allowing Prisoners To Join Military

Zelensky is expected to sign the legislation into law

The Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday passed a bill that would allow some prisoners to join the Ukrainian military as Ukraine is desperately trying to mobilize more troops.

Olena Shuliak, the leader of the ruling party Servant of the People, said the mobilization would be voluntary and that prisoners must have no more than three years left of their sentence to be eligible to serve.

Shuliak said in a Facebook post that the bill prohibits prisoners from joining the military if they’ve been convicted of certain crimes, including the murder of two or more people, sexual violence, crimes against “the foundations of national security of Ukraine,” and serious corruption offenses.

“Facing in the conditions of total war against an enemy with more resources can only be consolidated all forces. This bill is about our fight and preservation of Ukrainian statehood,” Shuliak said.

The bill received support from 279 Ukrainian MPs out of the 450-member parliament, known as the Verkhovna Rada. It needs to be signed by the head of the parliament and President Volodymyr Zelensky to become law, and both are expected to support the measure.

Prisoners recruited by Russia’s Wagner Group made up much of the fighting force on the Russian side in the brutal battle of Bakhmut. At the time, Ukrainian and American officials condemned Russia for using prisoners.

The new bill comes as Ukraine is looking to pressure military-age Ukrainians living abroad to come back to the country to join the military. Kyiv has cut off consular service for military-age men, and some NATO countries say they’re willing to help Ukraine pressure them to go fight Russian forces.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.