Ukraine withholds services for military-aged men overseas in effort to bring them home to fight

Ukraine officials announced Tuesday that the state's consular services would be suspended for military-age male citizens who are living abroad until May 18 in an effort to pressure those escaping the war with Russia to return and fight. 

This means that men aged 18-60 living abroad will not be able to renew passports, obtain new ones, or obtain official documentation such as marriage licenses, per Reuters

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted to X: "How it looks like now: 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... Staying abroad does not relieve a citizen of his or her duties to the homeland." 

Last week, Ukraine passed a law that will make the military mobilization process for military-aged men more effective, requiring them to report either in person or remotely to draft officials to update their papers required to receive consular services. This law will take effect on May 18. 

Until then, the suspension of consular service for men abroad will remain in effect. 

This move has been highly criticized by its citizens as well as analysts. 

Kyiv political analyst Volodymyr Fesenko called out the underlying intentions of the order and new law, stating that it appeared Ukraine is trying to force its military-aged male citizens to submit their up-to-date personal data to the military, but cast doubt on its effectiveness. 

"But sooner or later many men will have to choose whether to confirm their Ukrainian citizenship," he said. 

Around 4.3 million Ukrainians were living in European Union countries as of January 2024. Of those, around 860,000 were men. 

Although Ukraine imposed martial law at the beginning of the war which banned males aged 18-60 from going abroad sans special exemption, many have fled.

Image: Title: Zelensky