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2 Jun, 2024 11:27

Dozens of Ukrainians drowning while fleeing country – officials (GRAPHIC PHOTOS)

The border service has warned against illegal attempts to leave as the nation grapples with a conscription drive
Dozens of Ukrainians drowning while fleeing country – officials (GRAPHIC PHOTOS)

At least 45 Ukrainian men have died while attempting to flee the country for the EU, the State Border Service has said. Most men between the ages of 18 and 60 are barred from exiting Ukraine due to an ongoing conscription drive to service the conflict frontline.

In May alone ten people were confirmed to have drowned in the Tisza River, which flows from Ukraine’s southwestern border through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the agency’s western regional branch said that there had been several recent reports of bodies found in rivers or mountainous terrain in areas bordering the EU.

The people died “while trying to overcome natural obstacles” during attempts to escape the country, the agency said. Most perished while crossing rivers.

The agency also released disturbing photos of the corpses of at least two men who apparently drowned while crossing the river. “Whoever the border guards could save, they saved, risking their lives,” the statement said, adding that those attempting to escape teh country can also face wild animals, including bears.


”We once again emphasize the danger to life and health associated with the illegal crossing of the state border! Do not make your relatives live on with shameful memories of you,” the service said.

Crossing the Tisza River has become one of the most popular ways for potential conscripts to avoid conscription. The outlet RBK-Ukraine noted that this emerging trend marks a shift from earlier months, when more Ukrainians tried to exit of the country by presenting false documents to border guards.


The outlet also said that there is no way to tell how many lives the Tisza River has claimed so far. Meanwhile, the Economist reported last month that Kiev had reinforced the area with national guard units and new checkpoints. They also reportedly regularly rotate border control staff in order to prevent them developing any kind of “business relationships” related to their responsibilities.

Despite tightened security, dozens of Ukrainians still make it to the other side of the border daily, according to the paper.

Ivan Timochko, the head of Ukraine’s Reservist Council, stated that men are more likely to die while crossing the Tisza River than to be killed in action, or even mobilized in the first place. He also said that only around 30% of service members take direct part in combat, with the rest serving in supporting roles.

Ukraine’s mobilization campaign, which was announced shortly after the start of the conflict with Russia, has been marred by widespread draft dodging and graft. This spring, Kiev significantly tightened mobilization rules and lowered the age limit from 27 to 25.

Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov said on Friday that Ukraine lost more than 35,000 troops in May alone. Earlier in the month, Moscow estimated Kiev’s losses since the start of 2024 at over 111,000.