At Least 30 Men Have Died Trying To Flee Ukraine Draft

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by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, May 01, 2024 - 06:45 AM

Since Russia's February 2022 invasion, some Ukrainian 30 men have died trying to sneak out of the country and avoid being forced into a war that looks increasingly futile -- and increasingly deadly for those on the losing side. 

That grim tally was shared by Ukraine's State Border Guard Service leader Andriy Demchenko in a Monday interview with Ukrinform, a Ukrainian state news agency. The fact that this was disclosed in a state outlet suggests that it was meant to serve as a cautionary tale, to dissuade other Ukrainian men from attempting to leave the country. 

"Overall, since the full-scale invasion began, about 30 people have died attempting to illegally cross the border," Demchenko told Ukrinform. He also said that the government had identified 450 criminal groups that have helped facilitate escapes -- for hefty fees.

The vast majority of fatalities have happened while braving the natural barriers that stand between them and foreign refuge against military service. "Some lost their lives while attempting to cross a mountain river or traverse mountains," said Demchenko. Two dozen have died crossing one obstacle: the Tysa River that marks Ukraine's border with Romania.  

SkyNews recently provided some interesting insights into the market for draft-escape services, via an interview with one such illegal entrepreneur. For example, a crossing by foot goes for $6,000 -- but there's a whopping $2,000 discount for those who agree to swim across a border river. "If the person says they can't swim, we have equipment for that, but there's an additional payment involved," explained the smuggler. 

He told Sky that he's never had an escapee bail once the journey begins:

 "When you explain to them that there are some risks, they don't want to hear about it. They just want to build a life for themselves… You explain, 'well, it's going to be cold.' But they don't care. They just want to build a life for themselves."

"Attempts to illegally cross the border occur every day," Demchenko said, noting that there are two varieties of would-be escapees. "Most of these attempts are outside of border checkpoints on the border with Moldova and Romania. The largest number with forged documents is recorded on the border with Poland."

Demchenko offered some examples of tactics used to make it through official border posts. Men dressing in women's clothes has been commonplace. "I personally remembered a case when a man hid in the structural features of a vehicle, climbing into a niche for a spare wheel. In order to squeeze in there, he had to strip down to his underwear," he said. 

He also shared an anecdote that sounded like something out of The Three Stooges

"There was another case related to the design features of the vehicle, when a partition was made in the minibus, and while the border guards were checking the cargo compartment, the violators ran into the passenger compartment. When the border guard went to the passenger compartment, they ran into the cargo compartment."

Under the martial law declared after Russia's invasion, men between 18 and 60 years old are generally forbidden to leave the country, so they can be readily available for involuntary servitude in the war. For most of the war, men below 27 were exempt from conscription. In early April, President Volodymyr Zelensky signed into law an expansion of that parameter, so that men 25 and above are fair game for the draft.  There are other exemptions, such as being a father to more than three children under age 18. 

Ukrainian border guards near the Tysa River on the country's border with Romania (via New York Times)

Thanks to some news we shared here last week, aspiring escapees are probably now less likely to try reaching Poland. The country's defense minister said his government stood ready to round up Ukrainian military-aged males and return them to their home country. "I think many Poles are outraged when they see young Ukrainian men in hotels and cafes, and they hear how much effort we have to make to help Ukraine," he told Polsat News television. 

Enthusiasm over joining Ukraine's war against Russia has plummeted since the early days following the Russian invasion. The latest news from the front in eastern Ukraine will surely accelerate the trend. On Saturday, the country's military commander-in-chief confirmed that his outnumbered troops have fallen back to new positions on the eastern front -- essentially admitted for the first time that a 'tactical' retreat is underway.

To paraphrase young John Kerry's 1971 congressional testimony on do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a losing cause? 

Of course, these days, Kerry's war-related remarks are pure green lunacy: