The law allowing prisoners to serve in the war in Ukraine takes effect

Ukrainian soldiers

Ukrainian soldiers

Photo: Associated Press

A divisive mobilization law in Ukraine came into force on Saturday as Kiev scrambled to increase troop numbers after Russia launched a new offensive in Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv.

The legislation will make it easier to identify any recruitment in the country. It also offers incentives to soldiers, such as cash bonuses or money to buy a house or car, which some analysts say Ukraine cannot afford, the AP reports.

Lawmakers dragged it out for months, and only approved it in mid-April, a week after Ukraine lowered the age for men who can be drafted from 27 to 25. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also signed two other laws on Friday, allowing prisoners to join the army and increasing fines fivefold for those who try to evade.

Russia conscripted its own prisoners early in the war, and personnel shortages forced Ukraine to adopt the new measures.

Russian troops, meanwhile, are pressing ahead with a ground offensive that has opened a new front in northeastern Ukraine's Kharkiv region. After weeks of investigation, Moscow launched the new push knowing that Ukraine was suffering from a shortage of personnel and that its forces were scattered at home.