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Border police: Number of Ukrainian men fleeing to Slovakia more than doubles

by Chris York May 9, 2024 11:03 PM 1 min read
Slovakia's new Prime Minister, Robert Fico, in Prague on Nov. 24, 2023. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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The number of military-age men caught fleeing Ukraine and attempting to cross into Slovakia more than doubled in the first four months of 2024, compared with the same period of 2023, the Slovak border police said on May 9.

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.

Speaking to AFP, Slovak border police said 338 Ukrainians were detained and released in the first four months of 2024, compared to 166 over the same period in 2023.

"In the first week of May, we captured 45 men on the green border," spokesperson Agnesa Kopernicka said, adding: "In the same period of last year, this number was four."

Ukraine is updating the legal framework around conscription and introducing harsher penalties for draft evasion to ramp up mobilization in 2024.

On April 29, State Border Guard Service Head Andriy Demchenko said more than 30 men have died while attempting to cross Ukraine's mountainous western border to evade mobilization.

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.

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