Army: Ukraine increases controls to prevent men of military age from leaving the country | International
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One of the news highlighted in the television news last Tuesday in Ukraine was a raid against a group of people who issued false medical tests. This gang, in the kyiv region, allegedly provided medical certificates that freed men from the obligation to serve in the Army. According to the Prosecutor’s Office of the Ukrainian capital, the network also offered the transfer of its clients abroad. As signs of an upcoming mandatory enlistment mount – with more checks to ensure they are registered – more men are looking for alternatives to fraudulently leaving the country.
Males between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine and must be registered with the Armed Forces recruitment offices. The registration requirement had been rather lax since the beginning of the Russian invasion, on February 24, until the president, Volodymyr Zelensky, announced a month ago that the Ukrainian troops had to reach a million soldiers to reconquer the province of Kherson. . The capture of this region by Russia, on the Black Sea coast, is considered the biggest Ukrainian failure in the war.
This July, police operations are taking place in cities across Ukraine, notifying men to register at military offices. A woman from Dnipro, who prefers not to reveal her name, recounts her experience with increased controls, during a weekend this summer when she and her partner rented a bungalow in a leisure center on the outskirts of the city. city. Upper-class families from Russian-occupied townships in Donetsk and Lugansk provinces are residing in this villa complex. One night, police vans showed up and took the men away to search them: “Since I had made the reservation in my name, they didn’t find out that my boyfriend was in the room. Of course, they asked me if by any chance I was a nurse. As of October 1, women with professions required in combat situations will also be required to register and will have limited mobility.
Ukraine has more than half a million people involved in the defense of the country, according to a count by EL PAÍS published last March. The Center for Eastern Studies, an institute for geopolitical analysis in Warsaw, puts the figure at 750,000 people. Of these, 200,000 are soldiers from regular troops and the rest are Army veterans who have served since 2014 on the Donbas front (in the east) and volunteers. As the months go by, the relief of the soldiers in the front line of fire is more necessary. The Government also estimates that it will have to increase the number of troops to one million in order to recover the lost territories in the Black Sea.
Whether because of the need to earn income from a job abroad, or because of the fear of fighting, more and more men are willing to skip the ban. The options are limited and some are risky. An especially difficult one is crossing the border with Romania or Moldova with the assistance of local smugglers. In Telegram there are groups that offer information about these possibilities. The group “Help on the border” reported this Wednesday the arrest in the province of Odessa of a man who was secretly transporting two young people who wanted to cross the Moldovan border in his van. Each would have paid more than 6,500 euros.
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Another option is to pay bribes to obtain medical exemptions. With these, men can travel abroad. Last June, also in Odessa, a network that provided medical certificates and transfers abroad for 4,100 euros was dismantled.
There are exceptions to the order that Zelensky approved under martial law. Parents of large families – from three children – can leave Ukraine, including those who have citizenship of another state. But some exceptions serve to cheat. Organizations in charge of moving humanitarian aid to Ukraine can send drivers abroad, with a time limit outside the country of 30 days. There are organizations that sometimes send people who do not return, as this newspaper has been able to verify from two testimonies. University students enrolled in foreign institutions can also leave Ukraine, subject to government authorization. However, the authorities are increasingly limiting the permits for new entrants, especially for the older ones.
The controversy surrounding the ban on men leaving made headlines last May, when the Odessa lawyer Alexander Gumirov collected some 27,000 signatures in favor of lifting the ban on traveling abroad. By law, a popular initiative with 25,000 signatures must be evaluated by the president. Zelensky’s response was negative, and he added that the petition should be sent to the families of soldiers killed in combat. The Government periodically reminds that what is at stake is the existence of Ukraine.
Despite Zelensky’s denial, the truth is that there has been a change in trend. The numbers from Eurostat, the statistics agency of the European Commission, prove it. The number of new Ukrainian refugees in the European Union has been declining, but the percentage of men is rising with respect to the total. This is proven by some of the countries that have already updated the June data of the monthly granting of temporary residence status for Ukrainians. Poland is the main recipient of refugees from the invaded country. In March, the first month of war, men between 18 and 64 years old represented 2.6% of the total number of new stay permits for Ukrainians; in June, the percentage had risen to 16%. In Lithuania, another reference country for Ukrainians, this percentage had increased from 3% to 24%; in Sweden, from 7% to 28%. In Romania, the percentage was already 17% in March, and 18% in June.
the russian way
Another alternative for those seeking to leave, the most risky, is to reach the European Union through Russia. In the first months of the invasion, few people fled the conflict through enemy territory, but the number has been growing until it is the first border that Ukrainians cross, according to the United Nations – 1.8 million Ukrainians have done so, compared to to the 1.2 million who left through Poland—. Those who opt for this route are mainly families from the occupied territories, although the Ukrainian government assures that hundreds of them have been forced to move to Russia. His journey begins at the borders with the Russian provinces of Belgorod, Vorónezh and Rostov, and ends by accessing the European Union through Latvia or Estonia.
Denis is a businessman from Kupiansk who EL PAÍS interviewed from Kharkov on July 17. Kupiansk is a municipality 30 kilometers from the border with Russia and taken by the troops of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the early stages of the invasion. This 29-year-old explained that he had considered reaching Poland by crossing Russia and the Baltic countries, but the experience of a friend discouraged him. This was first transferred at the border to the so-called “filtration camps”. There they investigated his social networks and discovered that he had shared a recent message from the Ukrainian Air Force on Facebook. “They beat him up and locked him up for a few days. In the end they let him into Russia. He now he is already in Poland.”
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