UKRAINE LEGAL UPDATE
15 August 2022
Rada votes to extend martial law and the general mobilization to 21 November 2022. Given the ongoing hostilities in Ukraine’s south-east, the Parliament on 15 August 2022 approved the presidential decree to extend the current martial law status and the attendant general mobilization another 90 days.
This is the fourth time that the parliament renews the state of martial law in the country, first introduced on 24 February 2022 as Russia invaded. It has since been extended several times:
on 14 March 2022, for 30 days,
on 18 April 2022, for 30 days,
on 18 May, for 90 days, and
this last time on 15 August 2022, for 90 days (23 August to 21 November 2022).
Martial law means a modified structure of government, with significant powers passing into military hands, a suspension of elections, and a curbing of constitutional freedoms.
General mobilization may be decreed separately from or in addition to martial law. It affects men from 18 to 60 years of age. But not all of them are drafted into the army at once. Enlistment occurs in stages, as determined by the high military command and based, among other things, on the nature and extent of their military training and geographical locations. Men subject to mobilization may not – with limited exceptions – leave the country.
Still not a state of war
Technically, however, martial law does not mean war. The Constitution distinguishes between martial law and a state of war. Under the Constitution, martial is declared in case of a threat to the country’s national security, and so may be imposed in situations short of a full-scale war. Article 85(9) of the Constitution, by contrast, expressly authorizes Rada, at the President's request, to declare specifically a state of war. On that basis Ukraine is, after all, may legally be not at war, potentially leaving open the question of the ongoing hostilities’ overall legal effects, including on contractual obligations.