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31 Dec, 2023 13:21

Ukrainian men finding it harder to leave country – media

Border guards are reportedly demanding certificates from recruitment offices even from those permitted to exit
Ukrainian men finding it harder to leave country – media

Ukrainian men who are allowed to leave the country are finding it increasingly difficult to do so due to roadblocks set up by border guards, according to local media. Some reports have suggested that the agents’ actions are based on a secret internal document calling for a tightening of the country's borders.

The Ukrainian outlet Strana.ua reported on Saturday, citing people attempting to cross into Poland, that officials are requiring all men, including those transporting humanitarian aid, those who are physically impaired, or have many children, to present a certificate issued by a recruitment office.

The website noted, quoting an eyewitness, that the inspections resulted in long queues at the border, adding that all checkpoints are now manned by recruitment officers. According to the article, even those who previously had no problems crossing the border could now only leave Ukraine if military officials allow it.

Most Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 were barred from leaving the country after the general mobilization in February 2022. However, there were certain exceptions, and Ukrainians with physical disabilities or those who have many children were usually permitted to leave the country if they simply had the appropriate documents confirming their status.

The logjam was confirmed by former Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Gennady Zubko, who told the outlet NV that border guards did not explicitly state the reason for the roadblocks. The ex-official also claimed that border agents cited an internal classified document, which they refused to show.

Meanwhile, Strana.ua reported that the border situation sparked protests, with an unspecified number of Ukrainians blocking a road near the checkpoint not far from Poland. A bus passenger stuck in transit complained about “the complete mess, absurdity and lack of subordination on part of the checkpoint’s employees,” as quoted by the outlet.

However, Andrey Demchenko, the spokesman for Ukraine’s Border Service, denied that the rules had been changed. However, he said that his agency “always carefully checks the conditions of departure and strictly observes the legislation,” adding that this year alone it has denied exit to nearly 50,000 people.

The reported border issues come as Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky said earlier this month that his military had asked him to mobilize another 450,000-500,000 to replenish battlefield losses, although later Valery Zaluzhny, Kiev’s top general, pushed back on that claim.

The two officials’ comments come as Ukraine’s much-hyped counteroffensive failed to break Russian defenses in over six months, with Kiev suffering around 160,000 casualties, according to Moscow.

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