With the escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, new rules were introduced regarding the passage of male citizens across the Ukrainian border. Following the announcement of the general mobilization, certain restrictions were imposed on this group of people, which have been modified over time – so today we are providing a comprehensive update on this topic.
“General mobilization” — what is it?
[…] Mobilization is called the transition of the armed forces of a state from the peacetime stage to the organization of the state of war, the transformation of the peacetime economy into a war economy and the adaptation of the state administration for the needs of war.Jacek Solarz, Doktryny militarne XX wieku. Kraków: Avalon, 2009
When the Order of the President of Ukraine №69/2022 of 24 February 2022 (declaring universal mobilization) came into force, a number of changes related to unrestricted border crossing occurred. The general rule is that men between the ages of 18 and 60 cannot leave the country. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. They apply to persons who:
- have a valid document proving their disability (regardless of which group; the document must be issued in Ukraine) or a pension certificate or a certificate confirming the award of social assistance;
- have been excluded from service by a decision of the Military and Medical Commission, or have been declared unfit for military service for more than six months;
- have three or more children under the age of 18 (a paternity bond is not required, but the mere fact of paying for the children is);
- are raising one or more children on their own;
- have custody of children with disabilities (including children with cerebral palsy) – on their own, if appropriate documents are presented to prove that the children are outside the borders;
- need treatment abroad — including those affected by warfare;
- permanently reside abroad in Ukraine;
- are volunteers who work to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine, including the Armed Forces of Ukraine;
- are seafarers (on special terms);
- have the status of a student at a foreign university;
- are railway employees;
- is assisting a woman who is at least 35 weeks pregnant;
- are civil servants, including local government officials (under special rules);
- are parliamentarians at various levels, civil servants and other officials.
The Ukrainian Border Guard has prepared detailed information on border crossing for Ukrainian men — with a discussion of the exceptions, the documents needed and the legal basis. Model documents are also available in the document below.
The Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, in order to curb the illegal crossing of the border by men, introduced a law in April 2022, which provides for criminal liability for such actions – in the form of a fine of 10,000-15,000 zlotys and, in exceptional cases, also an arrest sentence.
Problems arising from the ban
The closure of a huge number of citizens in the country has caused several internal problems that harm Ukraine. They mainly concern international activities that could be an additional source for the budget — for example, concluding agreements, transporting goods from abroad or conducting international projects. These do not come to fruition because one side of the activities cannot freely leave Ukraine to carry them out. There are also problems in the military sphere — there are claims that it is not only with weapons that one fights for one’s homeland, but also with stimulating economic activities, in such a difficult situation. If one feels that one cannot protect the country at the front, one should be able to support it — for example — by working abroad. The aforementioned complications were sought to be overcome by proposing the introduction of any kind of security in the form of fees or pledges that would motivate citizens to return to the country (as of February 2023, nothing of the sort is in force).
Modern warfare has another front – the virtual one. Among other things, it aims to destabilize public sentiment by spreading fake news. The mechanism is very simple – by putting the Ukrainian side in a negative light, supporting it in the war can appear as a bad move among the international community. This is a deliberate action that is part of the war effort. Many myths have been created around the issue of popular mobilization, so any such information should be subjected to a fact-checking procedure. We can do this on our own (instructions on how to do this can be found on portals such as Niebezpiecznik.pl), but we can also use portals dedicated to this:
- Demagog.pl — under the section ‘Ukraine’ we can find analyses of fake news concerning the war and the international situation related to it.
- Fact-checking Wprost Ukraina — analyses concern not only the news, but also the tactics of fraudsters taking advantage of the war situation (e.g. pretending to be the CSO in surveys on refugee admissions to fuel anti-Ukrainian sentiment).
- War in Ukraine — EDMO — portal of the European Union, which investigates the fact-checking of information that has emerged on the territory of the countries belonging to the alliance. A report summarising the fake news that has occurred appears every few months, and a ‘War in Ukraine’ section was created after 24 February 2022.