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Estonia will not force out Ukrainian men with expired passports

by Kateryna Hodunova April 30, 2024 12:20 PM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. Refugees from Ukraine stand on a platform at the Messebahnhof Laatzen station in Laatzen, Germany after their arrival on April 15, 2023. (Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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The Estonian Interior Ministry has no plans to forcibly send Ukrainian draft-aged men out of Estonian territory, Anneli Viks, the ministry's advisor on citizenship and migration policy, said this on April 30 in an interview with Estonian media outlet ERR.

Ukraine has not publicly appealed to any of its partners to force out or otherwise restrict its male citizens living abroad. However, Kyiv recently suspended new applications for consular support and banned sending documents and passports to  Ukrainian men of draft age – 18 to 60 – who reside outside of Ukraine.

With some exceptions, Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine during the war while martial law is in effect.

Viks said that Ukrainian refugees with expired passports will not be sent out of the country, but they will not be able to travel or apply for visas.

These residents can still apply for temporary residence permits or prolong the valid ones even without a passport. The identity verification can be carried out with other documents, the ministry's advisor added.

By April 26, 6,500 Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 had a residence permit under the temporary protection in Estonia. In total, nearly 31,000 war refugees had temporary residence permits with protection status in the country by late April, ERR said.

In October 2023, the EU officially prolonged the Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainian refugees until March 2025. The EU also expressed its willingness to extend the protection beyond this date.

Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski previously said that Poland would wait for Kyiv to "take the initiative" on how to approach bringing Ukrainian men back to Ukraine.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte were in favor of helping bring back draft-aged men to Ukraine, but also only after consultations with Ukraine and the EU.

US State Department: No position on Ukraine’s suspension of consular services
U.S. State Department spokesperson Dan Cisek said it is a “difficult question” but that the “government of Ukraine has the right to define its policy” on this issue.
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