Special Report

Ukraine, and 9 Other NATO Countries That Have Mandatory Military Service

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With no end in sight, the war in Ukraine is now well into its second year. International interest in the outcome of the war extends far beyond the belligerent countries. While 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.

Source: Plougmann / iStock Unreleased via Getty Images

1. Denmark
> Military conscription stipulations: 4-12 months of military training
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men at age 18
> NATO membership status: Joined in 1949
> 2021 military spending: $5.4 billion (1.4% of GDP)
> Population: 5,856,733

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Source: KavalenkavaVolha / iStock via Getty Images

2. Estonia
> Military conscription stipulations: 8-11 months of military service (some work in government services)
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men ages 18-27
> NATO membership status: Joined in 2004
> 2021 military spending: $764.0 million (2.2% of GDP)
> Population: 1,330,932

Source: Andreas Rentz / Getty Images

3. Finland
> Military conscription stipulations: 5.5-12 months of service
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men at age 18 (eligible for the reserves until age 60)
> NATO membership status: Aspiring
> 2021 military spending: $5.9 billion (2.0% of GDP)
> Population: 5,541,017

Source: itpow / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

4. Georgia
> Military conscription stipulations: 12 months of military service (some work for the Ministry of Internal Affairs or the Ministry of Corrections)
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men ages 18-27
> NATO membership status: Aspiring
> 2021 military spending: $302.1 million (1.7% of GDP)
> Population: 3,708,610

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Source: BalkansCat / iStock Editorial via Getty Images

5. Greece
> Military conscription stipulations: 9-12 months of service
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men ages 19-45
> NATO membership status: Joined in 1952
> 2021 military spending: $8.1 billion (3.9% of GDP)
> Population: 10,641,221

Source: Sean Gallup / Getty Images News via Getty Images

6. Lithuania
> Military conscription stipulations: 9 months of service, lottery system
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men ages 19-26
> NATO membership status: Joined in 2004
> 2021 military spending: $1.2 billion (2.0% of GDP)
> Population: 2,800,839

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7. Norway
> Military conscription stipulations: 19 months of service, selective conscription
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men and women ages 19-35
> NATO membership status: Joined in 1949
> 2021 military spending: $8.3 billion (1.8% of GDP)
> Population: 5,408,320

Source: johan_h / iStock via Getty Images

8. Sweden
> Military conscription stipulations: 9-12 months of service, selective conscription
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men and women ages 18-47
> NATO membership status: Aspiring
> 2021 military spending: $7.9 billion (1.3% of GDP)
> Population: 10,415,811

Source: CatEyePerspective / iStock via Getty Images

9. Turkey
> Military conscription stipulations: 6-12 months of service
> Eligible demographic cohort: Men ages 20-41 (some exemptions apply)
> NATO membership status: Joined in 1952
> 2021 military spending: $15.5 billion (2.1% of GDP)
> Population: 84,775,404

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Source: Nzpn / iStock via Getty Images

10. Ukraine
> Military conscription stipulations: 12-18 months of service
> Eligible demographic cohort: Citizens age 20-27 (gender not specified)
> NATO membership status: Aspiring
> 2021 military spending: $5.9 billion (3.2% of GDP)
> Population: 43,792,855

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