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Ukraine’s draft dodger makes attempt to cross Dniester into Moldova on air mattress

Men of conscription age try to leave the country in every possible way, often putting their lives at risk

MOSCOW, April 24. /TASS/. Ukrainian border guards have detained a Ukrainian man while he was trying to cross the Dniester River on an air mattress into Moldova, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said.

"The transgressor was heading to Moldova on an inflatable mattress. Neither the fast current, nor the flooding of the Dniester stopped the Ukrainian in his intention to swim to the neighboring country," the service wrote on its Telegram channel. The video it uploaded shows that the draft dodger managed to get far away from the shore. It then shows a boat with border guards heading towards him. It said that the evader had already paid 2,000 euros out of the 4,000 euros requested by accomplices assisting in his escape attempt. The detained man will be held administratively liable.

A general mobilization campaign was announced in Ukraine in February 2022 and has been extended several times since. The authorities in Kiev are taking all possible measures to prevent draft dodging. Thus, draft-age men are banned from leaving the country. Draft orders are being handed out to men seeking public services at government offices, in the streets and in other public places. Even those unfit for military service due to health problems are being drafted.

Meanwhile, men of conscription age try to leave the country in every possible way, often putting their lives at risk. Incidents are getting increasingly frequent when they are trying to cross the border by swimming or crossing the mountains. Border guards have also detained men who disguise themselves as animals and wear camouflage jackets.

On April 16, Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky signed into law a bill on mobilization, whose second and final reading had been passed by the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) on April 11. The document sparked strong criticism when it was still being prepared and discussed. According to many Ukrainian analysts, the law won’t help solve problems related to the army’s manpower shortages but may lead to a rise in corruption as those liable for military service will do everything they can to get a deferment or exemption through bribes.

After news came of the law’s adoption, Ukrainian news outlets and social media started spreading reports about long lines at Ukrainian overseas consulates where men liable for military service are seeking to reissue their documents according to the old rules. Once the law takes effect, they will be able to receive consular services only after their data is updated by draft offices.