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State Border Service: Over 30 draft evaders died trying to illegally cross border

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 29, 2024 6:12 PM 2 min read
Armed servicemen of the Dilove border guard unit accompanied by a German Shepherd dog wade through the dense carpet of 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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More than 30 men have died while attempting to cross Ukraine's mountainous western border to evade mobilization, State Border Guard Service Head Andriy Demchenko said in an interview with Ukrinform published on April 29.

Under martial law, Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60, with some exceptions, are not allowed to leave the country as they may be called up for military service.

As Ukraine faces the challenge of mobilizing more men for its army, a November 2023 report by the BBC indicates that around 20,000 Ukrainian men have illegally crossed the border and escaped mobilization.

Many men end up crossing the border illegally with the help of smugglers, who demand vast sums only to leave the men to cross a river or mountain alone, Demchenko said.  

"Every day we refuse border crossings to about 120 people," Demchenko said.

Since the start of the full-scale invasion, the State Border Guard Service has uncovered about 450 criminal networks that smuggle people across the border.

The majority of these attempts occur on Ukraine's border with Moldova and Romania, while the border with Poland sees the largest number of attempts to leave Ukraine through checkpoints with forged documents, Demchenko said.

The State Border Guard Service reported on April 29 that a total of 24 people have drowned after trying to cross the Tysa River, which forms the border in Zakarpattia Oblast, after two men drowned on the evening of April 27.

"It is extremely dangerous to swim across (the river), especially at night," the State Border Guard Service said in a statement.

"Sharp stones, roots, tree debris, and the swift and cold stream can pose a danger to life and health."

Polish FM: Returning draft-aged men to Ukraine is ‘ethically ambiguous’
Returning men of draft age to Ukraine is “ethically ambiguous” and Ukraine will thus have to “take the in initiative” in the process, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said in an interview with Polish channel TVN24 on April 27.
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