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25 Dec, 2023 13:08

Ukrainian draft dodgers face banking ban – MP

Lawmakers in Kiev are considering denying crucial services to men avoiding conscription on foreign soil
Ukrainian draft dodgers face banking ban – MP

Ukraine may punish draft dodgers who are hiding from mobilization abroad by denying them consular and banking services, MP Vadim Ivchenko told the news outlet Strana.ua on Monday.

The Ukrainian parliament is preparing a major reform of the military service system that is intended to facilitate boosting the ranks of the army. President Vladimir Zelensky has indicated that up to 500,000 people may be called to arms, while Defense Minister Rustem Umerov has identified men in foreign nations as among the sources of recruits.

Under the proposed law, a Ukrainian citizen ignoring a mobilization summons may be denied consular services, the MP said. Such an individual would not be able to renew an expired ID, for example, or issue a power of attorney.

If banks are included in the legislation, the credit cards and accounts of draft dodgers could be frozen, he added. The bill may be voted on as soon as in January, Ivchenko said last week, as he explained the proposed mechanism for tracking people eligible for mobilization abroad.

Umerov claimed in an interview on Sunday that Kiev sought to change the perception of military service among Ukrainians. They should consider it an honor, not a penalty, he said.

“Our focus is not on punishing a person, but on offering him opportunities, so that a service member has no uncertainties about safety,” he said. Particular restrictions that would be imposed on non-compliant citizens are subject to “collective decisions” by MPs, he added.

The Ukrainian government has merged databases of nationals, including those residing in other countries, and is preparing to send draft notices electronically, the minister said.

Some European nations hosting Ukrainian refugees have indicated support for Kiev’s drive to return able-bodied men and send them to fight Russia. Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said last week that the Baltic nation knows where the roughly 7,000 Ukrainian men of mobilization age in the country live and “can handle finding … and handing them over to Ukraine.”

The Czech Republic, which last week extended legal protection of Ukrainian refugees till March 2025, is now offering one-time payments to those who agree to return to their home nation. Norway introduced a similar measure in October, while Switzerland is considering following suit.

The Russian Defense Ministry has estimated the losses of Ukrainian troops at over 383,000 since the start of hostilities last year. Nearly half of those casualties were reportedly sustained during the so-called summer counteroffensive.