Ukraine extends nationwide call-up beyond reservists

Compulsory military service also announced for all men of fighting age

Destroyed military vehicles on the roadside in Kharkiv, north-east Ukraine. Reuters

The Ukrainian armed forces have called on any citizen who has an ID code or passport to take up arms following the imposition of martial law as the country comes under assault from Russian troops.

“Today Ukraine needs everything,” a Ministry of Defence notice said on Friday. “All procedures for joining [the territorial defence forces] are simplified. Carry only your passport and identification code. There are no age restrictions. If you have problems on the ground, please refer to this official statement.”

Ukraine declared a state of emergency on Wednesday. Social media accounts have shown fighting-age men being challenged to join the ranks while the main motorways are clogged with traffic as people seek a route safety.

The 30-day state of emergency could restrict the freedom of movement of conscripted reservists, mean curbs on the media and lead to checks on personal documents, according to the notice.

The Ukrainian government has also announced compulsory military service for all men of fighting age.

Russian forces arrived on the outskirts of Kiev on Thursday, when helicopter-borne troops assaulted an airfield just outside the city, close to the district of Obolonsky.

The Ukrainian military said it had repulsed the attack on the Gostomel airbase, but Russian ground forces have also been pushing down the west bank of the Dnieper River from Belarus.

Firefighters hose down burning debris following a rocket attack on Kiev. AP

As Russian forces arrived in Obolonsky, the Ukrainian defence ministry urged civilians to resist.

“We urge citizens to inform us of troop movements, to make Molotov cocktails, and neutralise the enemy,” it said.

Ukrainian government and state websites have gone down in recent weeks, with Kiev blaming cyber attacks.

Moscow all along denied planning an invasion, describing the warnings as anti-Russian hysteria. On Wednesday, it took down flags from its embassy in Kiev, having ordered its diplomats to evacuate for safety reasons.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Friday also called on Europeans with “combat experience” to take up arms and defend Ukraine against invading Russian forces, saying that the West was too slow to help his country.

His call for help came as Russian forces were approaching the Ukrainian capital itself, with some units reportedly reaching the city's northern suburbs.

“If you have combat experience in Europe and do not want to look at the indecision of politicians, you can come to our country and join us in defending Europe, where it is very necessary now,” Mr Zelenskyy, who appeared tired, said in a video.

Speaking on the second day of the attack launched by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Zelenskyy also asked Europeans to “demand from your governments that Ukraine receive more financial, more military aid".

The 44-year-old leader also said the West was in no hurry to help Ukraine against the Russian invasion.

“How are you going to defend yourself when you are so slowly helping us in Ukraine?” he said.

Updated: February 25, 2022, 2:06 PM