Thursday Briefing: Ukraine Lowers the Draft Age

President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law lowering the draft age from 27 to 25 and eliminated some medical exemptions in an effort to replenish Ukraine’s exhausted army. He also created an electronic database of men, starting at age 17, to crack down on draft dodgers.

Parliament passed the legislation last May, but Zelensky delayed signing it in the hope that he wouldn’t need it. Most men who wanted to volunteer had already done so, and small anti-draft protests had broken out before the new laws were passed.

But, as a lawmaker in the opposition put it, Zelensky “has no choice.”

Russia’s assault is unrelenting, and Ukrainian generals have warned of a broader attack in the spring or summer. Ukraine’s army is running low on ammunition, and many of its soldiers have been on continual combat duty for two years.

What’s next: Ukraine is expected, at best, to hold the existing front lines this year — but only if an influx of U.S. weapons arrives, analysts say.

Risks: Ukraine has a small generation of 20-year-olds, because birthrates plummeted during the 1990s. Drafting men at age 25 could further diminish those numbers and jeopardize future birthrates, leaving the country without enough working- and draft-age men decades from now.

NATO: The alliance’s top diplomat said it was poised to take more control over military support to Ukraine — a role that the U.S. has played — as American aid to Ukraine stalls and the prospect of a second Donald Trump presidency looms.


At least 71 people were still trapped in two mining areas of Taiwan, and dozens of others were stranded after a magnitude-7.4 earthquake rocked the island yesterday morning, officials said. At least nine people died and more than 1,000 others were injured in the quake, Taiwan’s strongest in 25 years.

The quake toppled buildings across Taiwan and left two in the city of Hualien teetering perilously. As of last night, there were more than 200 aftershocks, with at least one tremor of magnitude 6.5. Officials warned of more aftershocks and, with rain in the forecast, possible landslides in the coming days.

Context: Taiwan’s earthquake preparedness has evolved over the past few decades. In 1999, a magnitude-7.6 quake killed nearly 2,500 people.


A deadly Israeli strike Monday on an aid convoy run by World Central Kitchen in Gaza has set back attempts to address a hunger crisis in the territory. The nonprofit stopped its operations in Gaza and sent three ships with hundreds of tons of food back to Cyprus. Other groups said they were being more cautious about deliveries.

Israeli’s military chief of staff said yesterday that the killings were “a grave mistake” — an unusually direct acknowledgment of fault. President Biden said that the deaths were not a “stand-alone incident,” adding that Israel has not done enough to protect civilians in the war.

World Central Kitchen: The group has become a leader in emergency relief by using local chefs and recipes to feed people in disaster zones. In an essay in The Times, José Andrés, the chef and founder, called on Israel to open more land routes in Gaza for food and medicine.

For more than half a century, developing countries successfully lifted millions out of poverty by moving subsistence farmers into manufacturing jobs, and then selling what they make to the rest of the world.

But technology is advancing, supply chains are shifting and political tensions are reshaping trade patterns. The changes are diminishing this once-reliable cycle, and doubts are growing about whether industrialization can still deliver the miracle growth it once did.

Service jobs could offer an alternative. Some multinationals have set up operation hubs in India, where workers handle accounting or develop cybersecurity systems. Those jobs are part of what has made India the fifth-largest economy, and Deloitte, a consulting group, predicts half a million more such jobs there in the next few years.

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