Ukraine bans men of fighting age from applying for new passports

Staying abroad does not relieve citizens of duties to homeland, says foreign minister

Arpan Rai
Thursday 25 April 2024 07:41 BST
Representatives celebrate and wave flags after Congress passes Ukraine aid package

Ukraine has temporarily banned military-age men from applying for passports abroad in a new regulation affecting those wishing to leave the war-hit country.

Now passports for men aged between 18 to 60 years will only be issued in Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry announced the provisions and a subsequent clarification on Wednesday, a day after foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said Kyiv was suspending consular services for males aged 18 to 60 until 18 May. The ministry said applications received after 23 April will be handled then.

Mr Kuleba criticised those living abroad for not serving in the 26-month-old invasion from Russia. He said it was incongruous that men subject to conscription were living abroad yet still wanted to receive state services.

"Staying abroad does not relieve a citizen of his or her duties to the homeland," he wrote on X.

Embassies and consulates will have to offer help to applicants seeking a special certificate declaring they wished to return to Ukraine, the ministry said.

Additionally, private agencies and vendors are no longer allowed to handle passport applications, the ministry said. Any request for passport applications from Ukrainian men will be handled by only government missions.

Ukrainians gather in front of a closed Ukraine’s passport service point at the shopping center in Warsaw, Poland
Ukrainians gather in front of a closed Ukraine’s passport service point at the shopping center in Warsaw, Poland (AFP via Getty Images)

The ministry added that the new set of rules did not apply to nationals who are allowed to cross state borders while martial law is in force, including those with disabilities.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has not commented on the announcement but he spoke about fighting back the “Russian war machine” in his nightly address. “We need strength in all formats, in every aspect, so that we can achieve peace as soon as possible through strong positions and strong actions,” Mr Zelensky said.

Earlier this month, he signed a law into critical legislation overhauling the mobilisation rules in Ukraine.

Men aged between 18 to 60 years and living abroad will not be able to renew their passports at Ukrainian consulates without showing registration paperwork. The new law on mobilisation is to come into effect that aims to increase troop numbers through incentives to volunteers and punishments for draft dodgers.

An estimated 86,000 Ukrainian military-age men are living in the European Union with more than hundreds of thousands expected to be living abroad as the war-hit nation faces a shortage of troops in the fight against Russian invasion which is being fought by its better equipped and larger military.

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