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25 Mar, 2024 12:36

Ukrainian general condemns sympathy for dead draft dodgers

Citizens who criticize conscription efforts are playing into Russia’s hands, Land Forces Commander Aleksandr Pavlyuk has claimed
Ukrainian general condemns sympathy for dead draft dodgers

A senior Ukrainian military commander has lashed out at sections of the public and media for criticizing the enforcement of the draft in the country, claiming that the dissent amounts to collusion with Russia.

Dozens of Ukraine’s male population are reported to have drowned while swimming across the Tisza River on the border with Romania in an effort to dodge the draft.

In a social media post on Sunday, General Aleksandr Pavlyuk, who heads the Ukrainian Land Forces, rebuked reports “about poor people drowning in the Tisza,” arguing that any such sympathy undermines the mobilization effort. His comments also came after claims of general unwillingness among Ukrainians to join the fight against Russia and a shortage of volunteers.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian border guard service reported the 22nd drowning death the Tisza River since the hostilities with Russia broke out in February 2022. Separately, the service has released images of officers beating and humiliating dozens of men after they were caught during attempts to be smuggled across the border.

“Some of our citizens, unfortunately, no longer realize that their actions and public statements have turned into a powerful weapon in the hands of the enemy,” Pavlyuk said. He further accused “bloggers and the free media” of reducing the public debate on mobilization “to an animal level.”

In addition to the “moral support of draft avoidance,” the general hit out at the “harassment” of conscription officials, claiming that many are disabled veterans who “went through hell.” Ukrainian civilians now brand them “human-catchers,” the general fumed.

There are multiple videos circulating on Ukrainian social media which show the military using violence against men as they are being drafted. Pavlyuk claimed that the clips are taken “out of context” and that any criticism of conscription officers “fails on purpose to get to the main point: that it is illegal for men to avoid their constitutional duty of defending Ukraine.”

The Russian military estimated Ukrainian combat losses at over 444,000 as of the end of February. Earlier the same month, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky claimed that 31,000 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed in action, deviating from Kiev’s usual policy not to report casualties. Western media pointed out that the figure was far lower than US estimates revealed in a series of leaks from the Pentagon last year.