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Authorities have uncovered nearly 400 networks aiding draft evaders since start of war

by Dmytro Basmat March 18, 2024 6:32 AM 2 min read
Illustrative purposes only: A border guard patrol along the border wall at the Polish - Belarus border not far from Bialowieza, eastern Poland, on May 29, 2023. (WOJTEK RADWANSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
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Since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022, law enforcement agencies have uncovered nearly 400 criminal networks that help individuals evade military service by aiding them in fleeing abroad, a spokesperson for Ukraine's State Border Guard Service announced on March 17.

"Altogether, about 400 organized criminal groups have been uncovered by law enforcement agencies, which, for a fee, promised people assistance in illegal travel across the border," State Border Guard Service spokesperson Andriy Demchenko said on a national TV broadcast.

Criminal entities who assist those escaping military service reportedly charge between $7,000 to $10,000 to provide fake certificates declaring individuals unfit for military service due to fabricated health conditions.

According to Ukrinform, border guards detained approximately 8,000 people in 2023 for attempting to cross the border outside designated checkpoints, while an additional 3,000 people presented forged documents at the crossings.

As Ukraine faces the challenge of maintaining adequate military personnel, a November 2023 report by the BBC indicates that nearly 20,000 Ukrainian men have managed to evade conscription, finding various routes to leave the country.

Fedor Venislavsky, the President's representative in the Verkhovna Rada, previously stated that between one and five percent of Ukrainians are attempting to avoid mobilization.

The Ukrainian government aims to ramp up mobilization efforts in 2024 and has pledged to change the approach to military recruitment, giving more choices to potential conscripts.

The parliament is now considering a new draft of the mobilization law after its initial, contentious version was withdrawn.

Under martial law, Ukrainian men between the ages of 18–60, with some exceptions, are not allowed to leave the country because they could be called up for military service.

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