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Why Ukrainians are fleeing from mobilization

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More and more men of military age in Ukraine want to escape the horrors of war. They turn to intermediaries and pay thousands of dollars. The reasons for escape are various. Some are afraid of death, others are against mobilization, which – in their opinion – does not provide adequate training for recruits before being sent to the front – writes the British daily “The Guardian”.

Dmytro, a 31-year-old photographer from Kharkov, rarely leaves his apartment. He doesn't want to be drafted into the army. He is waiting for autumn to come. Then, as he was promised, he would be able to leave Ukraine – describes the story of the Ukrainian in the British “The Guardian”. From the beginning of the armed invasion Russia Thousands of Ukrainians illegally crossed the state border to avoid conscription, despite a ban on leaving for men aged 18 to 60.

“The Guardian” predicts that attempts by men of military age to escape from Ukraine may increase after adoption of new mobilization regulationswhich provide for the imposition of stricter penalties for avoiding it.

Ukrainian men detained while trying to cross the state border in the Odessa region. Photo from June 25 DPSU

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“I'm not ready to die”

– I have never thought about fleeing the country before, but I can't stay in my apartment forever, Dmytro told the British daily.

Through acquaintances who had already escaped, the man gained contacts with people who promised to organize an escape for a fee of eight thousand euros. “I am not made for war. I can't kill people, even if they are Russians. I won't last long at the front. I want to have a family and see the world. I am not ready to die,” Dmytro explained. He admitted that he had doubts whether he could trust the middlemen, who had raised prices for their “services” due to increased demand. However, he said, “there is no other way out.”

Across the Tisza River

The Guardian estimates that the Ukrainian armed forces are “desperately short of soldiers.” Since the beginning of the war, hundreds of thousands of ordinary Ukrainians have volunteered to fight on the front lines. Many of them are already dead, wounded or simply exhausted, so the current recruitment is aimed at those less willing to fight.

The British daily recalled that “in order to fill the missing ranks, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a controversial law in April last year, which lowers the age of mobilization from 27 to 25 and provides for a number of penalties for evading conscription: e.g. loss of driving license, freezing bank account or confiscation of assets.

Even before the adoption of this law, according to various estimates, at least 20,000 men could have escaped from Ukraine. Some of them even dared to swim across the river (Tisa) on the border with RomaniaIn April, the Ukrainian border guard reported that 30 men have already died during such attemptsThe actual number of victims may be higher because the bodies of some escapees will simply never be found.

The Tisza River Google Maps

“Artist” from Odessa

Andriy, a 23-year-old computer scientist from Odessa, shared with British newspaper journalists the news he received at the end of May from people organizing escapes. It describes how he can leave Ukraine. One of them was that he had to cross the border with Moldova on the basis of a false passport, the second – for Andriy to cross the border as an “artist”, because people from this industry are still allowed to leave Ukraine occasionally. Both options cost around eight thousand euros.

Last summer, Andriy tried to cross the border into Moldova using a fake medical certificate stating that he was unfit for service. The escape attempt failed. The Ukrainian border guards had doubts about the authenticity of the document. The man was taken to the draft station. However, he was not sent to the front because he had given a bribe.

In an interview with the Guardian, Andriy admitted that “escape is becoming more and more difficult, and the border guards are less and less willing to accept bribes.” “I don't think I'll be so lucky the second time around,” he said. He is still considering “the offer of people organizing escapes”, although – as he confessed – he will spend all his savings to pay for their “services”. Andriy said he almost never leaves his apartment. And that many of his friends who were mobilized and fought at the front are already dead.

Ukrainians detained near the border with Romania. Photo from June 21 DPSU

“Classified Information”

There are no exact data on the number of men in Ukraine hiding from mobilization or intending to flee the country, notes “The Guardian”.

At the end of June, Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said that statistics on the number of men of military age detained at the border since the beginning of the armed invasion were “classified information”.

In May this year, the Romanian section of Radio Svoboda reported that since the beginning of the aggression in February 2022, about 11,000 Ukrainians have illegally crossed the border with Romania to avoid mobilization. The radio station referred to data from the Romanian border guard.

Reasons for escape

Conversations with men who are hiding from mobilisation show that the reasons for their escapes can be varied. Many fear death in the terrible trench battles that entail heavy casualties. Others oppose mobilisation, which does not provide adequate training for recruits before sending them to the front. There are also those who explain their avoidance of mobilisation by difficult family circumstances, wrote The Guardian.

Mykhailo, a fitness instructor from Mariupol, currently occupied by Russians, lives in Kiev. His parents remained in Mariupol. Mykhailo fears that if the Russians find out that he is in the army, his loved ones will be in great danger.

– I love my country and I want to fight, but my family comes first. It's a very difficult situation – he admitted in an interview with the British daily. Like others, he practically doesn't leave the apartment, and orders food online. – I recently missed my best friend's birthday because I was afraid to go out – he admitted in an interview with the British daily.

Divisions in society

While overall support for the army remains high, a polls show that a large number of men want to fight, mobilization may divide Ukrainians who are already tired of war. Many Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines or who have returned home from their wounds criticize draft dodging, arguing that it weakens the country's ability to resist at a time when Russians are attacking on multiple fronts, The Guardian wrote. He quotes another interlocutor, Roman, who was demobilized after injuring his left leg.

– I understand that people are afraid. But we need new soldiers to continue the fight – he said. – If not us, then who will protect this country? – he asked rhetorically.

The Guardian, Radio Swoboda, tvn24.pl

Main image source: DPSU

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