Ukraine, Poland sends back escaped men: agreement with Kiev

Those who fled the war and are of military age will be repatriated

Poland sends back to Ukraine men who fled the country at the start of the war and who, due to their age, could be conscripted into the armed forces. Authorities in Warsaw have begun extraditing Ukrainian citizens of military age who fled the country illegally after the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022.

After reaching an agreement with the Kiev government, Poland decided on extradition after verifying that 2.87 million Ukrainians aged between 18 and 60 have arrived in the country since the beginning of the war. However, according to news released by the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, most of them have already returned to Ukraine.

Authorities estimate that some 80,000 people who have crossed the border between the two countries are unregistered. “This is a significant figure for Ukraine because these people can be mobilized and strengthen troops at the front,” said Fyodor Venislavski, the Ukrainian president’s spokesman in the Verkhovna Rada.

It is difficult to elaborate a precise picture of the men at the disposal of the Ukrainian army and of the losses suffered in over 18 months of war. According to sources cited recently by the New York Times, Ukraine has about 500,000 troops, including active duty, reserve and paramilitary troops. In about a year and a half, the fallen for Ukraine are more than those recorded among American troops in Vietnam (about 58,000) and almost as many as among the Afghan security forces from 2001 to 2021 (about 69,000).

From Russia, in the same hours, the news relating to the proceedings against the deserters arrives. A Novosibirsk court sentenced five other soldiers to between five and five and a half years in prison for desertion after they left the military unit to which they were assigned after being mobilized. A sixth soldier was sentenced to five years in prison but with probation. Since the beginning of the mobilization last September, more than 2,900 cases of desertion have been opened. In 75 percent of the cases, they ended with a guilty verdict.

In recent months, amid repeated denials by Moscow for new mobilisations, measures have arrived that have changed access to the military service. In particular, 147,000 Russians aged between 18 and 27 were involved in the last spring draft, between 1 April and 15 July.