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BBC says almost 20 thousand men left Ukraine: Border Guard Service reacted

BBC says almost 20 thousand men left Ukraine: Border Guard Service reacted BBC says almost 20 thousand men left Ukraine (Photo: Getty Images)

The British publication BBC reported that nearly 20,000 men have fled Ukraine since the beginning of Russia's full-scale invasion to avoid conscription into the army. However, the State Border Guard Service claims not to possess such statistics.

The following sources were used in the preparation of the material: BBC and exclusive commentary by Andrii Demchenko, the spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

What is known from BBC?

According to the British BBC, almost 20,000 men have left Ukraine since the war's onset to evade conscription, with an additional 21,113 men attempting to flee but being apprehended.

The publication obtained this information from requests regarding illegal border crossings with neighboring countries such as Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary, and Slovakia. According to these requests, it was possible to count that 19,740 men illegally crossed these countries from February 2022 to August 31, 2023.

Of these, 14,000 individuals intended to cross the border on foot or swim across dangerous rivers, while the rest planned to use forged documents for exit.

Presidential Representative to Parliament Fedir Venislavsky acknowledged to the BBC that the problem is severe. He stated, "The government understands that this phenomenon is not isolated but widespread. Unfortunately, I would like to emphasize that corruption is very resilient." He added that Ukraine does "everything possible to minimize the number of corruption cases."

He also mentioned that the number of men leaving or attempting to leave has no impact on military efforts.

The State Border Guard Service's comments

Andrii Demchenko, the spokesperson for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGS), commented to RBC-Ukraine that he could not provide an assessment based on widespread data since he does not possess statistics from neighboring countries regarding the circumstances under which certain individuals might have been detained.

Demchenko stated that the Ukrainian side takes maximum measures to prevent illegal border crossing but acknowledged that during the state of war, such attempts have significantly increased.

"In addition to this, to reliably protect the state border, Ukrainian border guards closely cooperate with the border guards of neighboring European countries and Moldova, including conducting joint events such as joint patrolling or exchanging information about attempted violations," said Demchenko.

He noted that since the beginning of the state of war, border guards have detained 16,700 Ukrainian citizens attempting to illegally cross the "green area" of the border (outside border crossing points) or by other unlawful means.

"At the same time, over 7,000 individuals were exposed while attempting illegal crossing through border crossing points, including using counterfeit documents," Demchenko added.

He further emphasized that in 2023, compared to 2022, there have been fewer attempts to violate the state border, according to the SBGS.

"Most often, border guards record attempts of illegal crossing of the 'green area' of the border with Romania and Moldova, and the largest number of forgeries is detected at the border with Poland," Demchenko explained.

Demchenko added that during the state of war, almost 300 criminal groups specializing in the illegal transportation of persons across the border have been exposed.

Data from FRONTEX

According to the European Border and Coast Guard Agency FRONTEX, the statistics of detaining Ukrainian citizens at the EU's eastern borders are significantly lower.

This Agency is responsible for safeguarding the EU's external borders and coordinating national border services' activities.

According to FRONTEX data, from March 2022 to August 2023, 8,512 Ukrainian citizens were detained for illegally crossing the EU's eastern borders, including:

  • From March to December 2022: 5,035 individuals
  • From January to August 2023: 3,477 individuals

Departure of men abroad

Due to the state of war in Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale war, the departure of men aged 18 to 60 years from the country has been restricted.

However, there are exceptions. For instance, departure is allowed if the man is deemed unfit for military service and is removed from military registration.

Previously, the State Border Guard Service reported that over the past ten months, border guards denied departure from Ukraine to 43,000 citizens, with the majority being men.