Status: 24/09/2023, 09:32 a.m.
By: Patrick Mayer
Not every Ukrainian man complies with the wishes of the government in Kiev and signs up for military service. The military police are looking for objectors. There are probably quite a few.
Kyiv - All men between the ages of 18 and 60 who are fit for military service will not be allowed to leave Ukraine while defending their homeland against the Russian invasion. This is stipulated by martial law, which the parliament in Kiev, the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council), extends on a quarterly basis. Currently, this legislation is valid until mid-November.
Ukraine war: Hundreds of thousands of conscripts are abroad
However, this obviously does not suit every (actually) conscript. While the Ukraine war has been going on for more than a year and a half, the authorities are currently looking for hundreds of thousands of conscripts who apparently refuse to serve in the armed forces. Or at least have left the long-suffering country.
As reported by the Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND), more than 2023,27 Ukrainian men aged 650 to 000 are registered as refugees in the 18 EU states as well as in Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein - as of September 64, according to the EU statistics agency Eurostat.
Raid on the Odessa beach: a man signs a summons from a military registration and enlistment office. (Archive photo) © IMAGO / ABACAPRESS
Kiev is now increasing pressure on the European Union (EU) to extradite these compatriots. But there is no legal basis for this, writes the RND. By way of comparison, the regular armed forces, plus territorial defence, are said to comprise around one million soldiers deployed against the Russian invasion. According to the New York Times, around half a million of them are currently fighting under arms against the troops of Kremlin ruler Vladimir Putin, who invaded in violation of international law.
Ukraine war: Kyiv seeks conscripts in fight against Russia's invasion
According to RND, since February 24, 2022, and thus since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, 14,600 people have been arrested who wanted to leave the country of more than 40 million inhabitants illegally. In addition, the border guard had arrested 6200 men with fake exit permits. As Deutsche Welle (DW) reports, there are currently 184,272 Ukrainian men in Germany who were between 31 and 18 years old as of July 60. So far, there has been no request for expulsion from Kiev to Berlin.
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In Ukraine itself, on the other hand, special units of the military police are looking for men who refuse military service, although they could be drafted without a medical certificate according to the current rules. The soldiers who do this job are called "olives" because of the color of their uniforms. This is reported by Der Standard. According to its information, the Austrian daily spoke with an unnamed conscientious objector from Odessa. The man, known as Ritchie, said that the "olives" would check the male passengers in buses more often than they did in trams in the city (about one million inhabitants). It is not only here, in the picturesque town with its beaches, that groups of armed military police patrol.
Ukraine: Tougher rules for conscientious objectors called for
According to the report, Odessa on the Black Sea serves as an example of how the military has stepped up its recruitment efforts in recent months. Significantly, at the beginning of August, President Volodymyr Zelensky suddenly dismissed all officials responsible for the nationwide recruitment process. A total of 33 cases were initiated against 112 of them, most of them related to bribery, which Zelensky called "high treason". Conscientious objectors, on the other hand, would warn themselves in specially set up Telegram groups, where the "olives" - also called "cameo men" - are currently carrying out and controlling raids, writes Der Standard. Some of these groups would have up to 30,000 subscribers.
How much longer? The parliamentary group leader of Zelensky's "Servant of the People" party, David Arachamia, has now vehemently called for the rules for conscientious objectors to be tightened. Outcome uncertain. As on so many fronts of this war. (pm)