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Dozens try to illegally cross border every day, interior minister says

by Martin Fornusek June 20, 2024 11:16 PM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. Armed servicemen of the Dilove border guard unit accompanied by a German Shepherd dog wade through the dense carpet of the plant covering a rocky slope while on patrol at the Ukraine-Romania border in the Marmaroskyi Massif of the Carpathian Mountains, Zakarpattia Region, western Ukraine, Oct. 10, 2018. (Markiian Lyseiko/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Dozens of people try to illegally cross Ukraine's border into the EU every day, Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko said in an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) published on June 20.

Men of the conscription age are prohibited from leaving the country during martial law, save for several exceptions. Many attempt to reach neighboring countries in spite of that, hoping to avoid mobilization.

"We are talking about dozens of people every day. Sometimes 10, sometimes 20, sometimes 30," Klymenko said in the interview.

"This includes not only those who try to swim across the Tysa River or go through the forest or the mountains but also those who try to use fake documents at checkpoints."

According to the minister, the latter example represents 15% of all cases.

Several men had been found dead while attempting the perilous crossing across the Tysa River, which runs along the borders of Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, or through the mountains.

Klymenko said that Ukrainian authorities are "technically ill-equipped" to fully close the border with the EU for those citizens who try to cross illegally. He refused to provide overall statistics but rejected that the number of people who crossed or attempted to cross would reach tens of thousands.

Romanian police told RFE/RL in May that about 11,000 Ukrainian men have illegally crossed the border into Romania since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion.

According to Klymenko, negotiations with EU countries on the return of men who illegally left Ukraine are ongoing, but no such plans are being put forward in European capitals.

The minister also said that cross-border smuggling has dropped by around 30-40% as smugglers began instead illegally transporting people across the border.

Some countries, like Lithuania or Poland, voiced support for helping Ukraine bring back its military-aged men living abroad but rejected the possibility of forcibly deporting them.

32 Ukrainians reportedly detained in Hungary after illegal border crossing
Hungary detained 32 Ukrainians who illegally crossed the border by a truck in Zakarpattia Oblast, State Border Guard Service spokesperson Andrii Demchenko said on national television on June 10.

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