Ukraine to arm citizens willing to defend the country

Ukraine to arm citizens willing to defend the country
A building in Mariupol destroyed in the previous fighting with Russian in 2014. / bne IntelliNews
By Dominic Culverwell in Berlin February 24, 2022

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy announced a series of measures against Russia's military invasion on February 24, including the imposition of martial law, and the recruitment of citizens with combat experience or their own weapons to defend the country.

He said that the Ukrainian Armed Forces are already engaged in “hard battles repelling attacks by the Russian army" as Ukraine suffers assaults from the “north, east and south”.

"President Volodymyr Zelenskiy immediately convened the Military Cabinet, the National Security and Defence Council. All the necessary decisions were made in terms of the logistics of the counter-operation against the armed forces of the Russian Federation, and martial law was imposed in Ukraine. These are concrete actions to protect our territorial integrity," said the Advisor to the Head of the President's Office, Mykhailo Podoliak, on February 24.

Zelenskiy especially called on Ukraine’s citizens to support the Ukrainian army. "Our servicemen need this support. The main thing is that they need the support of our population. We have an army of powerful people. Our population is also a powerful army. So support our military," Zelenskiy said.

He announced the National Security and Defence Council had decided to “lift sanctions on all citizens of Ukraine who are ready to defend our state with weapons in their hands as part of territorial defence".

The president also called on everyone with combat experience and who is capable of fighting to “come to the relevant staffing centres of the Ministry of Internal Affairs” and announced that the state will “give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country”.

To keep morale high, Zelenskiy asked the Ukrainian media to more actively inform the public about the success of the armed forces and the losses of the enemy. "The enemy has suffered heavy losses. The losses of the enemy will be even greater,” he stated.

On Twitter, Zelenskiy wrote that he had spoken to US President Joe Biden, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, President of the European Council Charles Michel, and President Andrzej Duda of Poland. He mentioned the formation of an “anti-Putin coalition” and urged “immediate sanctions, defence and financial support” for Ukraine. 

Ukraine has also announced it is severing diplomatic relations with Russia. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled to Kyiv the charge d’affaires of Ukraine in Russia, Vasyl Pokotylo, for consultations. The MFA also commenced the evacuation of Ukraine’s embassy in Moscow.

The government also assured that the national bank and the banking system have all the necessary resources to meet the financial needs of the state, its defence and to protect the interests of citizens.

Podoliak added that a cash withdrawal limit of UAH1,000 ($33) had been introduced.

"There were some interruptions a few hours ago with the possibility to pay for goods or services by card. These are all local manifestations of cyberattacks, which are accompanied by military attacks on our industries. In the banking sector, everything is sufficiently controlled," he said.