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16 Jan, 2024 16:22

Ukrainian men in EU are ‘cowards’ – Estonian MEP

Bloc members must help Kiev send draft dodgers to the front lines, Jaak Madison has said
Ukrainian men in EU are ‘cowards’ – Estonian MEP

Nearly 800,000 military aged men have illegally fled Ukraine to other European countries to avoid the conflict with Russia, and it is up to the EU to help return them to the front lines, Estonian MEP Jaak Madison said on Tuesday.

Speaking at the European Parliament, Madison said that when Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky visited Tallinn last week, he made it clear that Kiev needs a lot more men, as it has already lost thousands of troops in the conflict with Russia.

He claimed that there are currently hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men living in Europe who “illegally” fled when the fighting with Russia broke out in February 2022.  

The Estonian official called the men “cowards,” insisting that the EU should help Kiev get them back, as well as providing it with additional military aid so “they will not die in Ukraine.”

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, however, said on Sunday that Tallinn does not intend to deport any Ukrainian nationals of military age, explaining that the EU had given these people temporary protection and would not agree to send them back to Ukraine. She added that if Kiev wants them to return, it must convince them to do so.

Kiev has repeatedly signaled in recent weeks that the Ukrainian army is in dire need of new recruits, after the much-hyped summer counteroffensive failed to yield any significant territorial gains and instead resulted in a large number of casualties. According to Russian estimates, around 400,000 soldiers have been killed or wounded on the Ukrainian side during the conflict, including 125,000 over the course of the counteroffensive. 

One Ukrainian commander also revealed in an interview on Sunday that the average age of the soldiers currently serving in Kiev’s forces is over 40 years old, and that the military desperately needs younger men, explaining that those who joined the army at the beginning of the conflict are mostly “gone.”

Zelensky claimed in December that the military had asked him to mobilize up to 500,000 more men. General Valery Zaluzhny, Ukraine’s top commander, later denied making this request. Nevertheless, some officials have insisted that the army needs to call up even more than what Zelensky proposed. The governor of Nikolaev Region, Valery Kim, has said that at least 2 million people need to be enlisted.