Written by 16:24 World

As Ukraine Expands Military Draft, Some Men Go Into Hiding

First, Vladyslav stopped going into Kyiv’s city center to avoid draft officers checking papers. Then he stopped exercising at the gym because of patrols in his neighborhood. Now, he spends most of his days holed up in his apartment, often using his binoculars to watch officers serving draft notices to commuters leaving a nearby subway station.

“They’re everywhere now,” said Vladyslav, 45, who, like other Ukrainians in hiding interviewed for this article, requested that his last name not be published. “I’ll try to avoid getting caught,” he said, “but I’m not sure it’s possible.”

As Russian forces are on the attack across the front line, the Ukrainian military has been desperately trying to replenish its war-battered forces, embarking on a large-scale mobilization campaign backed by new laws.

While many Ukrainian men have answered the call to serve, some others have tried to evade conscription. Even before the latest mobilization push, thousands of men had fled the country to avoid service, some of them swimming across a river separating Ukraine from Romania. Now, as officers scour the country’s cities to draft men of military age, currently 25 to 60, many people like Vladyslav have gone into hiding, fearful that conscription is a one-way ticket to the front line.

It is not clear how many men are hiding out, but in big cities like Kyiv and Lviv, social media groups alerting members to the movements of draft officers include tens of thousands of members.

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Last modified: 22 June 2024
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