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Ukraine suspends consular, passport services for military-age men abroad

by Nate Ostiller and Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk April 23, 2024 1:38 PM 2 min read
Ukrainian citizens who arrived to Krakow after fleeing from Ukraine queue to handle formalities for at the Consulate General of Ukraine in Krakow, Poland on March 14, 2022. (Beata Zawrzel/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
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Ukraine has suspended new applications for consular support for military-age men abroad, the Foreign Ministry announced on April 23.

Following the adoption of the new law on mobilization, a number of by-laws that regulate the work of Ukraine's consular services "need to be updated to bring them into line with its requirements," the Foreign Ministry said.

Ukrainian embassies and consulates are therefore 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."

The suspension does not apply to Ukrainians who find themselves in emergencies abroad, such as road accidents or natural distasters, the Foreign Ministry said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also wrote on X that he "ordered measures to restore fair attitudes toward men of conscription age in Ukraine and abroad."

Ukrainian media outlet Dzerkalo Tyzhnia published a copy of a letter signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Andrii Sybiha on the evening of April 22, that appeared to show that consular services for men aged 18-60 located abroad would be temporarily suspended.

Suspilne reported earlier on April 23 that Ukrainian consulates in Prague and Barcelona had suspended services for military-age men.

The move comes a week after Ukraine finally passed a hotly debated bill on mobilization as the country seeks to bolster its armed forces. Ukraine is facing a manpower shortage, and has had to resort to introducing some punitive measures for those deemed to be dodging the draft.

Kuleba also criticized men of fighting age who have left the country during the war.

"How it looks like 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," Kuleba said.

"It does not work this way. Our country is at war. Staying abroad does not relieve a citizen of his or her duties to the Homeland."

The BBC estimated in November 2023 that some 650,000 military-age Ukrainian men have left the country for the EU since the beginning of the full-scale invasion.

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.

Kuleba added that the Foreign Ministry would soon "provide further clarifications on the procedure for obtaining consular services within the legal framework for men of conscription age."

In a separate post on Facebook, the state passport service wrote, "Unfortunately, due to technical reasons, the issuance of ready-made documents in foreign branches of SE (State Enterprise) Document has been suspended."

The service added that it would still be possible for children under 12 to receive passports abroad because there is need for biometric documents.

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