Ukraine pressures military age men abroad by suspending their consular services

By Radina Gigova, CNN

CNN  — 

Ukraine is tightening pressure on men of call-up age living abroad by suspending their consular services, amid a wider overhaul of the country’s mobilization rules aimed at beefing up its defenses against Russia’s invasion.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba announced the suspension in a post on social media Tuesday, saying that it was needed to “restore fair attitudes” toward conscription.

“Under the circumstances of Russia’s full-scale aggression, the main priority is to protect our homeland from destruction,” Kuleba said in a post on social media, adding that staying abroad “does not relieve a citizen of his or her duties to the homeland.”

“A man of conscription age went abroad, showed his state that he does not care about its survival, and then comes and wants to receive services from this state. It does not work this way. Our country is at war,” Kuleba said.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs would provide “further clarifications on the procedure for obtaining consular services” in the days and weeks before a new law overhauling the country’s mobilization procedures takes effect, “as well as after it comes into force.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed the controversial new law on April 16, after the draft version was amended more than 4,000 times by lawmakers – a measure of how politically difficult crafting the legislation was.

Ukrainian authorities are still working through the full ramifications of that law, which is set to take effect on May 18.

Among the new law’s stipulations are that all men between 18 and 60 register with Ukraine’s military and carry their registration documents on them at all times, so that the recruitment processes can be more efficient and more transparent, the government says.

It also stipulates that Ukrainian men aged between 18 and 60 years who are living overseas will have to produce up-to-date versions of these registration documents when renewing their passports.

One of the aspects of the law that has made it so controversial is that it does not contain provisions for demobilizing soldiers who have spent long periods fighting, which has prompted outrage by family members.

After the law passed, dozens of wives and relatives of servicemen gathered outside Ukraine’s parliament to protest and demand that mobilization deadlines be included.

The new law is aimed at boosting the pool of men available to fight for Ukraine. Zelensky recently suggested Ukrainian soldiers on the front lines were being outgunned by 10 to 1 in Russia’s favor.

Late last year, the leader of Zelensky’s Servant of the People faction in parliament said the military was looking for an extra half million servicemen and women.

But Ukraine’s Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrsyki said recently any increase in numbers would likely be significantly lower.

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