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The Ukrainian Army Just Got a Little Less Soviet

The Ukranian Army is finally moving away from its dependence on conscripts, a holdover from Soviet times. Once, all male citizens between 18- and 27-years-old were required to serve in the Army for 12 months or the Navy for 18 months.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich announced Monday that the UAF would call its last conscript this week. The country houses the fifth largest army in Europe. It'll reduce its armed forces from 180,000 people to 122,000 by 2018. Today, 60 percent of its armed forces are contract soldiers.

Earlier this month, Yanukovych said the changes were a necessary part of Ukraine's European integration strategy. The European Union is expected to sign an association and free trade agreement with Ukraine next month, seen by many as an important step towards EU membership.

Reuters photographer Gleb Garanich was at yesterday's ceremony for the last set of conscripts for the Ukrainian army. Below, his images from the parade square at a Kiev recruitment office:

Conscripts line up during a ceremony marking the last set of conscripts in the Ukrainian army at the parade square in a recruitment office in Kiev, October 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) 

(REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

An artist performs during the ceremony marking the last set of conscripts in the Ukrainian army. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) 

(REUTERS/Gleb Garanich) 

Ukrainian conscripts leave a recruitment office after the ceremony in Kiev, October 15, 2013. (REUTERS/Gleb Garanich)

Keywords: Europe, Ukraine, Military, Kiev

Mark Byrnes is an associate editor at The Atlantic Cities. All posts »

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