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Polish defense minister: Poland ready to help Ukraine get its military-aged men back

by Rachel Amran and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 25, 2024 1:05 AM 2 min read
Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz in Poland on March 15, 2024. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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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 Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said on April 24.  

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.

Ukrainian embassies and consulates are no longer accepting new applications for consular services for Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60, "with the exception of applications for registration of identity cards for return to Ukraine."

Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 will be able to get passports only at migration service offices in Ukraine. The service of sending the passports abroad will not be available anymore.

"I think many Poles are outraged when they see young Ukrainian men in hotels and cafes, and they hear how much effort we have to make to help Ukraine," Kosiniak-Kamysz told Polsat News. "However, the form of assistance (Poland provides) depends on the Ukrainian side."

The Polish official also emphasized that Warsaw had previously offered to help Ukraine identify refugees living in Poland who are under military obligation. Poland hosts around 1 million Ukrainians who fled from Russia's all-out war, the highest number of all countries.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stated on X that the 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."

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

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