Ukraine implements passport renewal restriction for military-age men outside the country

  • Ukraine has announced that men aged 18 to 60, deemed fit for military service, can only renew their passports within Ukraine.
  • The restriction aims to prevent potential soldiers from leaving the country.
  • Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, mostly to neighboring European countries.

Ukraine worked Thursday to get much-needed new supplies of weapons and ammunition from a huge U.S. aid package to its eastern front line, where Russia was pressing forward with its efforts to take ground from outnumbered and outgunned troops.

Ukraine is also seeking to reverse the drain of potential soldiers from the country, announcing that men of conscription age will no longer be able to renew their passports from outside the country.

The Cabinet of Ministers said Wednesday that men between 18 and 60 who are deemed fit for miliary service will only be able to renew their passports inside Ukraine.

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Millions of Ukrainians have fled the country since Russia’s full-scale invasion in 2022, mostly to neighboring European countries. The European Union’s statistics agency, Eurostat, says 4.3 million Ukrainians are living in EU countries, 860,000 of them men 18 years of age or older.

Ukraine soldier

Ukraine is seeking to reverse the drain of potential soldiers from the country, announcing that men of conscription age will no longer be able to renew their passports from outside the country. (AP Photo/Alex Babenko)

The defense minister of Poland, home to one of the biggest Ukrainian diasporas, said the country was ready to help “in ensuring that those who are subject to compulsory military service go to Ukraine,” though he did not specify how.

Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said “Ukrainian citizens have obligations towards the state.”

But Ukrainian opposition lawmaker Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze, who heads the Parliamentary Committee for Ukraine’s European Integration, said denying military-age men access to consular services could lead to “well-founded” legal challenges at the European Court of Human Rights.

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“I think that these actions will only push an enormous number of Ukrainians to look for different ways to obtain citizenship from other countries,” she said.

Russia’s population of almost 150 million dwarfs Ukraine’s 38 million, and Moscow can draw on a much bigger army. Earlier this month, Ukraine lowered the conscription age from 27 to 25 in an effort to bolster the size of the military.

The U.S. is sending $61 billion in new U.S. military aid, a lifeline for Kyiv’s armed forces in their more than two-year war with Russia. President Joe Biden signed into law the aid package on Wednesday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said “the key now is speed” in getting the supplies into place. Ukrainian forces have run desperately short of artillery ammunition and air defense missiles during six months in which the U.S. aid was held up by wrangling in Congress. That has allowed the Kremlin’s forces to inch forward in parts of eastern Ukraine in what has largely become a war of attrition.

Ukraine’s general staff said Thursday that the situation at the front remained “difficult.”

Six people were injured in the Cherkasy region of central Ukraine on Thursday after a “high speed target” struck a critical infrastructure object, Regional Governor Ihor Taburets said on social media. He said a rescue operation was underway.

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Ukraine’s Air Force warned of a “high speed aerial object” flying towards Cherkasy region around 6:30 a.m. local time. It did not identify the type of object or say whether it was intercepted.

Britain’s Treasury chief, on a visit to Kyiv, urged all NATO countries to increase defense spending to 2.5% of GDP to help Ukraine and “pile the pressure” on Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt said he told Zelenskyy during Wednesday’s visit that the U.K. would maintain at least its current level of military support, some 3 billion pounds ($3.8 billion) in 2024, for “as long as it takes.”

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said this week his country’s defense budget will increase to 2.5% of GDP from its current level of just over 2% by 2030. Sunak also announced 500 million pounds ($625 million) in new aid for Ukraine – including ammunition, vehicles, boats and 1,600 strike and air defense missiles.