Ukraine restores consular services for military-age men abroad

Saturday, May 18, 2024

KYIV: Ukraine will lift a temporary ban it imposed on consular services for military-age men living abroad starting on Saturday, the foreign ministry said.

Hundreds of thousands of military-age Ukrainian men are living abroad, while the country faces an acute shortage of troops to help it defend itself against Russia’s full-scale invasion.

Kyiv introduced the ban in April citing a need for a technical pause to align with legislation overhauling the rules governing army mobilization.

The law tightening draft rules comes into force on Saturday, including a new requirement for men abroad to have an up-to-date military document to apply for services such as having their passports renewed.

The suspension meant those rushing to get services beforehand were not able to file applications and receive their documents.

“Starting May 18, men aged 18-60 who are temporarily abroad have the opportunity to apply for consular services,” the ministry said.

The unexpected suspension sparked criticism from Ukrainians abroad and some lawmakers. Some serving in the military supported it as a fair move.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba criticized men residing abroad for not helping the state to fight for its survival.

Ukraine faces an acute shortage of troops, and has recently adopted a series of laws aimed at helping it call up fresh reinforcements and address the numerous cases of draft dodging, including illegally going abroad.

Some 4.3 million Ukrainians were living in European Union countries as of January 2024, of whom about 860,000 are adult men, the Eurostat database estimated.

Ukraine imposed martial law at the start of the Russian full-scale invasion more than two years ago, banning men aged 18 to 60 from traveling abroad without special dispensation and beginning a rolling mobilisation of civilian men into the armed forces.