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21 Dec, 2023 12:40

Ukraine tells draft dodgers to return home and fight

All Ukrainian men of military-age who have fled abroad will be summoned to recruitment centers, Rustem Umerov has said
Ukraine tells draft dodgers to return home and fight

The Ukrainian government is demanding that all men of fighting age who left the country after the outbreak of the conflict with Russia return and join the military, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov has told Bild.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said his commanders have proposed mobilizing an additional “450,000-500,000 individuals.” 

Discussing those who have fled, Umerov stressed to Bild on Thursday that “all Ukrainian men of military age – from 25 to 60 years – are to receive invitations to report to recruitment centers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.” 

Anyone who ignores the “invitations” will face sanctions, the defense minister warned, although he added that the details of potential penalties are still being discussed.

Umerov made clear that he has little sympathy for draft dodgers, insisting “it’s not a punishment to defend and serve your country. It’s an honor.” 

Ukraine shut its borders for males of military age shorty after Russia launched its campaign in February 2022, although many were still able to flee abroad, mainly to EU nations.

According to Bild, 221,571 Ukrainian men arrived in Germany after the outbreak of the conflict, with 189,484 of them still in the country.

The outlet described the announcement by Umerov as “politically explosive,” warning it “could have serious consequences for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men living abroad.” 

Shortly after the release of Umerov’s interview, Strana.ua reported that the defense minister’s three children have obtained US passports. According to the outlet, his son and daughter were listed as Ukrainians in Umerov’s tax statement in 2020, but in 2022 they were described as American citizens. The minister’s second daughter also received a US passport soon after her birth, Strana.ua said.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Tuesday that some 400,000 Ukraine troops have been killed or wounded since the start of the fighting, putting Kiev’s daily losses at around 600 men.

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