Various ways to avoid the conscription of thousands of Ukrainian men

Border zone of Ukraine - Photo: NEW YORK TIMES

Border zone of Ukraine – Photo: NEW YORK TIMES

On a gloomy morning at the train station of Chop, a Ukrainian border town, passengers line up for a train bound for the Hungarian town of Zahony, 13 minutes away. From Zahony they could get to the capital of Budapest, and then disperse all over the world.

Legal exit from the country under the age of 18

At the station, a platoon of soldiers proudly attended the celebration of the Independence Day of Ukraine. But not all Ukrainian men are so eager to take up arms.

according to sheet EconomistThousands of Ukrainian men have fled abroad, although no one knows exactly how many.

There were only 20 men in the queue of about 130 people. Men between the ages of 18 and 60 are not allowed to leave Ukraine unless they qualify for an exemption from conscription. Among those waiting are four teenagers who will soon turn 18. To avoid the risk of dismissal from service, they must leave before this deadline.

On August 11, President Volodymyr Zelensky announced he would fire the heads of the country’s regional recruiting offices, whose officials are accused of selling deferred permits worth up to $10,000. “Bribery in wartime is treason,” Zelensky said.

Keep grinding history to get “equal to two”

In Uzhgorod, a Ukrainian city close to the border with Slovakia, 25-year-old Aleksei is upset that he did not follow his cousin and flee at the start of the conflict.

Alexey said that the war is “legalized murder, and I do not want to participate in it.” When the conflict first broke out, it was easy to get out of it, he hesitated for only a few days, and it was already too late to leave legally.

After that, Aleksey planned to cross the border on foot, but the price of a guide was up to 5,000 US dollars. He thought to himself that the chances of success were too low to risk such a large sum of money.

Since students are exempt from military service, he entered the 2nd level bachelor’s program, but Aleksey will have to pay tuition fees: in Ukraine, only the first higher education is free.

Dmitry Tuzhansky, director of the Central European Institute of Strategy, a research organization based in Uzhgorod, said a large number of men eligible for military service have registered as students.

Various types of draft evasion

Mr. Tuzhansky also gave examples of avoidance, such as agreeing to care for a disabled family member, whether or not they really need care.

Another option is a profitable marriage with a person with disabilities.

Moreover, a “divorce”, in which the man is given full custody of the children, is also a good measure.

Colonel Olena Trachuk, spokesman for the Chop Detachment of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, summed it up: Since the beginning of the conflict, about 6,100 men have been detained at Ukrainian border crossings trying to defect with fake IDs or fraudulently take possession of them.

Lost on the border

According to Colonel Trachuk, some people are trying to plot their own route across the border using digital maps on their phones.

However, they were lost because there was no Internet access in remote border areas. So far, 19 people have been found drowned in the Tisza River, which borders Ukraine, Hungary and Romania.

Security forces are now focused on tracking people crossing the border, not just the official border gates. So far, they have gathered about 13,600 people willing to flee.

But even despite this, Colonel Trachuk still believes that in the Chop region every second person who crosses the line succeeds.

At the beginning of the conflict, Ivan, a 42-year-old musician from Uzhgorod, was about to join the army, but changed his mind when he saw the coffins of the former county. Ivan says that now he often fears that he will be “called” to the service: “I feel like a boat rocking between two waters.”

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