How men in Ukraine who don't want to fight avoid army service

, 19:29, 27.08.2023
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Ukraine lacks defenders. There are not enough volunteers. The country is constantly in need of replacing tens of thousands of soldiers who died or were wounded on the front lines.

How men in Ukraine who dont want to fight avoid army service

Ukrainian soldiers during exercises

Even greater are those who are simply exhausted after a year and a half of service since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Some men decided they didn't want to fight. Thousands left the country, sometimes through bribes. Others are looking for ways to bypass the representatives of the military commissars, who in turn are accused of using increasingly harsh methods of mobilization.

“Our military system is very outdated”, says Yehor.

He saw his father suffer from mental problems after returning from the war in Afghanistan during the Soviet era. That's why he doesn't want to fight. He asked us not to mention his real name.

Previously, before the Russian invasion, men who did not want to serve in the traditional way could choose alternatives in the case of conscription, such as farming or social work. But last year, when martial law was imposed and mobilizations began to take place into replenish the army, that option disappeared.

How men who dont want to fight avoid army service

Challenges of Mobilization: Ukraine's Outdated Military System

According to the law on alternative service, citizens of Ukraine have the right to refuse military service and perform alternative service due to their religious beliefs. However, this applies to conscripts who are not mobilized to the army at the age of 18-24 during martial law.

Each situation is very individual”, says Yehor. “And the way it's written in the constitution that all people must take part in the war, I don't think it's up to date.”

Recently, after being stopped by the police on a street in Kyiv, he was taken to the Military Commissariat (now officially the Territorial Conscription Centre), where he was charged with evading conscription. Eventually, he was allowed to return home. Then it turned out that he had problems with his back. But Yegor is afraid that next time he may not be released.

Men can be dismissed from service if they have health issues, are a single parent or are caring for a disabled person. However, those who have no reason to evade conscription may be fined or even imprisoned for up to three years.

“Everyone, depending on their situation, should be able to take certain actions to win,” says Yehor. "It's a shame for the people who are now on the front lines. But for me there is no pacifist alternative."

How men who dont want to fight avoid army service

From Corruption to Fear: Navigating Ukraine's Mobilization Efforts

President Volodymyr Zelensky ordered the dismissal of all heads of military commissions after accusations of bribery and intimidation were increasingly thrown at them.

In particular, the head of the Odessa assembly center was accused of buying cars and real estate on the Spanish coast for millions of dollars during the war. Sam claims that he has no idea about luxury shopping.

Ministry of Defense officials told the BBC that corruption allegations against TCC staff were "shameful and unacceptable".

It is because of the conscription that most Ukrainian men under 60 cannot leave Ukraine during martial law. Thousands of people are trying to flee the country, mainly through the Carpathian Mountains to Romania.

For those who stay but do not want to go to the front, popular chat rooms on social networks offer help on how to avoid the draft. Such chat rooms exist in every region and city, and some of them have more than 100,000 subscribers.

How men who dont want to fight avoid army service

In these groups, employees of military commissariats are called “olives” because of the color of their uniforms. They usually hand out summons to the men, obliging them to appear at the Military Commissariat. However, there are reports that men are simply sent there by force, with no way to return home.

The Ministry of National Defense is urging men to update their information in the national system and ensuring that if appointed, they will be assigned to a position consistent with their abilities. But there are also cases when employees of military commissariats are accused of harsh actions and intimidation. There are also reports that those called up to the front end up only after a month of training.

The latest information campaign of the Ministry of National Defense is held under the slogan "It's normal to be afraid". It is based on an attempt to find similarities between children's fears and what scares us today.

At an abandoned summer camp in Kyiv, civilians are trained to resist Russian soldiers should such skills be needed. They patrol the road, but at the moment when the instructor shouts: "Second group, grenade!", they all quickly fall to the ground. 

#Military#Russian Agression#Corruption

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