Martial law in Ukraine

Legal concept in Ukrainian law

The legal basis for the introduction of martial law in Ukraine (Ukrainian: Воєнний стан в Україні) is the Constitution of Ukraine, the Law of Ukraine "On the legal status of martial law" (No. 389-VIII from May 12, 2015[1]) and presidential decrees about the introduction of martial law. Modern-day martial law has been introduced two times in Ukraine.

The Constitution of Ukraine allows for some specific restrictions on rights and freedoms when the state of martial law is in effect.[2] The Constitution explicitly extends the five-year authority of Verkhovna Rada in the state of martial law until the first meeting of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine of next convocation, elected after the cancellation of the state of martial law.[3] Some say[who?] it implies that the Ukrainian constitution does not allow to hold elections to Verkhovna Rada while martial law is in effect.

Law "On the legal status of martial law"

The previous law "On the legal status of martial law" was adopted in 2000 and signed by President Leonid Kuchma.[4][5] It was changed several times: in 2003, 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014.[5]

In 2015, Petro Poroshenko introduced bill No. 2541 to parliament. It was adopted by the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine on May 12 and returned with the signature of the President of Ukraine on June 8.[6][7] In order to implement the new law, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine approved a typical plan for the introduction and provision of measures for the legal regime of martial law in Ukraine or in its separate areas.[8] In response to prolonged military intervention, central units of the executive branch of Ukraine created relevant divisions. In the Ministry of Social Policy operates Divilion for social adaptation of ATO participants and retired servicemen,[9] in the Ministry of Health – Division of coordination and providing medical care during anti-terrorist operations, emergency and martial law.[10]


On May 28, 2015, in the program "Year of Poroshenko," the President said that a decree on the introduction of a martial law in Ukraine would be signed if a truce was violated and an offensive would take place on the position of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.[7]

2018 martial law

Martial Law area in 2018.

A period of martial law was introduced by presidential decree on November 26, 2018[11] in 10 regions of Ukraine[12] from 14:00 local time for 30 days on with the aim of strengthening the defense of Ukraine against the background of increasing tension with Russia.[13][14] This happened after the incident in the Kerch Strait.[15][16] Martial law was ended after 30 days.[17]

Initially, President Poroshenko signed a decree for martial law within the whole of Ukraine for 60 days; however, after 5 hours of deliberations, a less restrictive version was signed into the law by an emergency session of the Verkhovna Rada.[18]

During the martial law (and starting on 30 November 2018) Ukraine banned all Russian men between 16 and 60 from entering the country for the period of the martial law with exceptions for humanitarian purposes.[19] Ukraine claimed this was a security measure to prevent Russia from forming units of “private” armies on Ukrainian soil.[20] According to the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine 1,650 Russian citizens were refused entry into Ukraine from November 26 to December 26, 2018.[21] On 27 December 2018, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine announced that it had extended "the restrictive measures of the State Border Guard Service regarding the entry of Russian men into Ukraine.”[22]

Martial law areas

The affected territories were located along the Russia–Ukraine border, along the part of the Moldova–Ukraine border which runs along the unrecognised state of Transnistria (where Russian peacekeeping troops are present), and at the coasts of the Black Sea and Sea of Azov. The Ukrainian internal waters of the Azov–Kerch aquatory were also subject to the martial law.


Despite public support, Poroshenko's decision was criticized because it occurred during the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election, which might be affected by the restrictions to the Constitution by the martial law (item 3 of the martial law decree).[23]

On the other hand, it has been criticized as being too late, because before the Kerch Strait incident several significantly more serious military incidents did occur since the 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[24] Critics associate the timing with Poroshenko's pre-election political ambitions, since his ratings for the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election fell very low.[25] Concern was also expressed that the martial law would affect international aid payments.

2022 martial law

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy declared martial law on 24 February 2022, in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[26] Speaking in a televised address to the nation shortly before 7 a.m., he clarified that all able-bodied men from 18–60 years old were not allowed to leave the country as the country began a general mobilization of all reserve forces.[27][failed verification] According to the official Facebook page of the Ukraine State Border Guard Service, as of July 19, 2023, this prohibition of border-crossing remains in effect.

On 26 February, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko declared a curfew from 5pm to 8am every day to expose Russian subversives.[28] The curfew was lifted on 28 February after a two-day search for Russian commando forces.[29]

On 20 March, President Zelenskyy signed a decree that merged all national television channels into one platform due to martial law.[30][31] That same day, he signed a decree suspending the activities of eleven opposition political parties, citing claimed ties to the Russian government, throughout the duration of martial law; the parties included the pro-Russian Opposition Platform — For Life, the second-largest party in the Verkhovna Rada, and in effect, all left-wing political parties.[32][33][34] On 22 May the Ukrainian parliament extended martial law for another 90 days and automatically renews from that point on.[35][36][37]

See also


  1. ^ Закон України "Про правовий режим воєнного стану" [Law of Ukraine "On the legal status of martial law"] (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada. 12 May 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  2. ^ "Constitution of Ukraine". Article 64, Constitution of 1996 (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  3. ^ "Constitution of Ukraine". Article 83, Constitution of 1996 (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
  4. ^ Sviatoslav Khomenko (March 2, 2014). Що таке воєнний стан? [What is a martial law?] (in Ukrainian). BBC News Ukrainian. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Закон України «Про правовий режим воєнного стану» [Law of Ukraine "On the legal status of martial law"] (in Ukrainian). Verkhovna Rada. 6 April 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  6. ^ Закон про правовий режим воєнного стану підписаний [The law on the legal regime of martial law is signed] (in Ukrainian). UkrMedia. 8 June 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  7. ^ a b Президент підписав закон про режим воєнного стану. 5 фактів [The President signed the law on the state of martial law. 5 facts] (in Ukrainian). 9 June 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  8. ^ Про затвердження типового плану запровадження та забезпечення заходів правового режиму воєнного стану в Україні або в окремих її місцевостях [On approval of a model plan for the introduction and provision of measures for the legal regime of martial law in Ukraine or in its separate areas] (in Ukrainian). Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. 22 July 2015. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  9. ^ Наказ Мінсоцполітики від 12 квітня 2018 року № 336 «Про затвердження структури апарату Міністерства соціальної політики України» [Order of the Ministry of Social Policy from April 12, 2018, No. 336 "On approval of the structure of the apparatus of the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine"] (in Ukrainian). Ministry of Social Policy. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  10. ^ Anastasiia Chabanenko (31 March 2018). "Declaration of the division of coordination and providing medical care during anti-terrorist operations, emergency and martial law specialist". National Agency for Prevention of Corruption. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  11. ^ Martial law in Ukraine introduced from Nov 26, Turchynov clarifies // UNIAN, 26 November 2018
  12. ^ Martial law in ten regions of Ukraine // Ośrodek Studiów Wschodnich im. Marka Karpia, 26 November 2018
  13. ^ Presidential Decree of November 26, 2018 No. 393/2018 "On the Imposition of Martial Law in Ukraine" (Ukr.) // President of Ukraine, 26 November 2018
  14. ^ The Law of Ukraine of November 26, 2018 No. 2630-VIII "On Approval of the Decree of the President of Ukraine 'On the Imposition of Martial Law in Ukraine'" (ukr.) // Supreme Council of Ukraine, 26 November 2018
  15. ^ Martial law in Ukraine could be a death sentence for its democracy // The Washington Post, 26 November 2018
  16. ^ In Standoff With Russia, What Does Ukraine's Martial Law Decree Mean? // The New York Times, 26 November 2018
  17. ^ Martial laws comes to an end in Ukraine after 30 days, BBC News (26 December 2018)
  18. ^ "Указ №393 про введення воєнного стану в Україні (текст)". 27 November 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  19. ^ "Ukraine bans entry to all male Russian nationals aged 16-60". UNIAN. 30 November 2018. Retrieved 2018-12-04.
  20. ^ Roth, Andrew (30 November 2018). "Ukraine bans entry to Russian men 'to prevent armies forming'". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  21. ^ Almost 1,650 Russian citizens refused entry into Ukraine amid martial law – Ukrainian Border Service, Interfax-Ukraine (December 26, 2018)
  22. ^ Ukraine upholds entry restrictions for Russian men aged 16-60 years, Ukrinform (December 27, 2018)
  23. ^ Ukraine's Martial Law Brings Unease After Russian Attack, by Renee Hickman, NBC News, December 7, 2018 (retrieved December 23, 2018)
  24. ^ (in Ukrainian) 30 days of war. What was the reason for the introduction of a state of war in Ukraine, Ukrayinska Pravda (27 November 2018)
  25. ^ Ukraine imposes martial law as tensions with Russia flare , Al Jazeera, November 26, 2018 (retrieved November 28, 2018)
  26. ^ "Parliament extends martial law, general mobilization in Ukraine for another 90 days". Ukrinform. May 2, 2023. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  27. ^ "Putin's Forces Attack Ukraine". The New York Times. February 24, 2022. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  28. ^ Adrienne Vogt; Lauren Said-Moorhouse; Jeevan Ravindran; Peter Wilkinson; Jessie Yeung; Brad Lendon; Steve George; Meg Wagner; Amir Vera; Helen Regan (2022-02-26). "Kyiv mayor orders curfew starting Saturday evening". CNN. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  29. ^ Ryan Garza (February 28, 2022). "Ukraine curfew lifts after hunt for 'Russian saboteurs'". News Nation Now. Archived from the original on February 28, 2022. Retrieved March 1, 2022.
  30. ^ "Citing martial law, Ukraine president signs decree to combine national TV channels into one platform". Reuters. 2022-03-20. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  31. ^ "Ukraine President Zelenskyy signs decree creating unified national news source". 21 March 2022. Retrieved 2022-03-23.
  32. ^ Balevic, Katie (20 March 2022). "Zelenskyy suspends Ukrainian opposition parties with 'ties' to Russia, warns of 'harsh response' if they don't comply with ban". Business Insider. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  33. ^ Sauer, Pjotr (20 March 2022). "Ukraine suspends 11 political parties with links to Russia". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2022.
  34. ^ Ishchenko, Volodymyr (21 March 2022). "Why did Ukraine suspend 11 'pro-Russia' parties?". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 28 March 2022. Other parties on Zelenskyy's suspension list were of left-wing orientation. Some of them played an important role in Ukrainian politics in the 1990-2000s, such as the Socialist and Progressive Socialist parties, but by now they are all completely marginalised. Indeed, there is no political party in Ukraine today with "left" or "socialist" in its name that could secure any considerable portion of the general vote now or for the foreseeable future. Ukraine had already suspended in 2015 all of the country's communist parties under the "decommunisation" law, which was strongly criticised by the Venice Commission.
  35. ^ "Ukraine extends martial law, general mobilisation until August". euronews. 2022-05-22. Retrieved 2022-09-19.
  36. ^ "Ukraine's parliament supports martial law extension for 90 days — lawmaker". TASS. Retrieved 2022-09-19.
  37. ^ desk, The Kyiv Independent news (2022-11-16). "Ukraine's parliament votes to extend martial law, mobilization". The Kyiv Independent. Retrieved 2023-01-26.

External links

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Martial law in Ukraine.
  • "Ukraine-Russia clash: MPs back martial law". BBC. 27 November 2018.
  • "Vladimir Putin expresses 'serious concern' over Ukraine's move to introduce martial law". The Telegraph. 26 November 2018.
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