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Minister: Lithuania may assist Ukraine in returning military-aged men

by Chris York and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 25, 2024 2:39 PM 2 min read
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky and Lithuania's Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas meet in Kyiv on April 10, 2024. (Presidential Office)
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Lithuania had said it could follow Poland's lead and take steps to encourage Ukrainian men of military age in the country to return home, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported on April 25.

Ukraine's government recently introduced a ban on sending identification documents and passports to Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 living abroad.

The new provision came into effect shortly after Ukraine announced the suspension of new applications for consular support for military-age men abroad as part of a new mobilization law.

Lithuania's Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said in the parliament he was closely watching his Polish counterparts, who announced a similar stance on April 24, though he said Vilnius has not yet decided on specific measures.

"Of course, no one will collect them and take them to Ukraine - this will not happen,"  Kasciunas said, adding: "But (it is possible to limit these persons) in terms of social benefits, work permits, documents – these are options that I hear from the Polish side as well.

"So, let's wait and see what option they will offer, maybe it will also be suitable for Lithuania."

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Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on X that Kyiv's new measures are intended to "restore fair attitudes toward men of conscription age in Ukraine and abroad."

"How it looks now: a man of conscription age went abroad, showed his state that he does not care about its survival, and then comes and wants to receive services from this state. It does not work this way. Our country is at war," Kuleba said.

With some exceptions, Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine during the war while martial law is in effect. The BBC estimated in November 2023 that some 650,000 military-age Ukrainian men had left the country for the EU since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

Ukraine passed its hotly debated bill on mobilization this month following months of deliberation and rewrites. The bill was a key component of political and military leadership's efforts to ramp up mobilization in 2024 amidst an increasingly critical manpower shortage.

Polish defense minister: Poland ready to help Ukraine get its military-aged men back
Poland will help Ukraine bring its military-aged men back following new changes to passport and consular service laws for Ukrainian men living abroad, Polish Defence Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said on April 24.

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