NATO Countries That Have Mandatory Military Service

With no end in sight, the war in Ukraine has entered its second year. International interest in the outcome of the war extends far beyond the belligerent countries. While pariah states like Iran and North Korea are supplying Russia with weapons and material, and China is believed to be considering such a move, the U.S. and other NATO members have pledged tens of billions of dollars in funding and military hardware to support the Ukrainian cause. 

Established in 1949 as a check against Soviet Union expansion, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is now using its coalition power to deter further Russian aggression against Ukraine. Currently, there are 30 NATO member states, in addition to five countries that are actively seeking membership. Notably, Ukraine is among them.

As Ukrainian resistance has largely stalled the Russian advance, in November 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing for men between the ages of 18 and 27 to be conscripted into military service. In Ukraine, military service has been compulsory for men between the ages of 20 and 27 since 2014, when Russia invaded and annexed Crimea. 

Though no NATO member state’s involvement in the conflict has extended beyond supplying weapons and aid, several member states and aspiring member states are also actively conscripting young citizens into military service. (Here is a look at all NATO members ranked by military power.)

Using data compiled by the CIA World Factbook, 24/7 Wall St. identified the NATO members, and aspiring members, with mandatory military service. Countries are listed in alphabetical order. We also reviewed data on military spending in current U.S. dollars, military spending as a share of GDP, and population figures from the World Bank. All World Bank data is as of 2021. 

Even though four countries on this list are not yet NATO members, their aspirations to join the organization indicate an alignment of geopolitical interests, particularly in regard to Russia, with those of the U.S. and other NATO allies. (Here is a look at the countries sanctioning Russia.)

Click here to see the NATO countries that have mandatory military service.

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