Swimming rivers and faking illness to escape Ukraine’s draft
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A recent study found that nearly 20,000 Ukrainians have fled the country to avoid enlistment since the war began.

Some have swum dangerous rivers to escape the country. Darkness has prevented others from leaving.

Kyiv confirmed that 21,113 men attempted to flee but were caught by Ukrainian authorities.

During Russia’s invasion, most men aged 18-60 were prohibited from leaving. A recent report by the reveals dozens of people have escaped on a daily basis.

Many men have fled to join family overseas, study abroad, or simply make a living.

“What am I supposed to do in Ukraine?” asked Yevgeny. The whole country doesn’t have to be locked up. You can’t lump everyone together like they did in the Soviet Union.”

According to the, between February 2022 and 31 August 2023, 19,740 men illegally crossed into these countries from neighbouring Romania, Moldova, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.

While we don’t know how those men escaped, we do know how the other 21,113 tried to escape. Among them, 14,313 were attempting to cross the border by walking or swimming, and 6,800 relied on fraudulently obtained official papers stating fake exemptions such as fabricated illnesses.