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Dozens of Ukrainians drown while fleeing country – officials (GRAPHIC PHOTOS)

The border service has warned against illegal attempts to leave as the nation grapples with a mobilization drive

Around 45 Ukrainians have died attempting to leave the country for the EU, the State Border Service has said. Most categories of men between the ages of 18 and 60 are barred from exiting Ukraine due to an ongoing mobilization drive.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, the agency’s western regional branch said that there had been several reports of bodies found in rivers or mountainous terrain in areas bordering the EU.

It said that border guards had been able to confirm almost 45 people died “while trying to overcome natural obstacles.” The agency said most perished while crossing rivers, and that in May alone ten people were confirmed to have drowned in the Tisza River, which flows from Ukraine’s southwestern border through Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Serbia.

The agency also released disturbing photos of the corpses of at least two men who apparently drowned while crossing the river. “Whoever the border guards could save, they saved, risking their lives,” the statement said, adding that another deadly danger illegal crossers can face is wild animals, including bears.

©  Ukraine’s State Border Service / Facebook

”We once again emphasize the danger to life and health associated with the illegal crossing of the state border! Do not make your relatives live on with shameful memories of you,” the service said.

Ukrainian media has reported that crossing the Tisza River and the Carpathian Mountains has become one of the most popular ways for potential conscripts to avoid mobilization. The outlet RBK-Ukraine noted that this marks a shift from earlier months, when more Ukrainians tried to get out of the country by presenting false documents to border guards.

©  Ukraine’s State Border Service / Facebook

The outlet also said that there is no way to tell how many lives the Tisza River has claimed so far, especially during the flood’s peak. Meanwhile, the Economist reported last month that Kiev had reinforced the area with national guard units and new checkpoints, while carrying out regular rotations to prevent smugglers from developing any kind of “business relationship” with officers.

READ MORE: Ukraine releases first convicts to fill military ranks

Despite the tightened security, dozens of Ukrainians still make it to the other side of the border daily, according to the paper.

Ivan Timochko, the head of Ukraine’s Reservist Council, stated that men are more likely to die while crossing the Tisza River than to be killed in action, or even mobilized in the first place. He also said that only around 30% of service members take direct part in combat, with the rest serving in supporting roles.

Ukraine’s mobilization campaign, which was announced shortly after the start of the conflict with Russia, has been marred by widespread draft dodging and graft. This spring, Kiev passed two bills on conscription. One of them lowered the draft age from 27 to 25, and the other significantly tightened mobilization rules.

Russian Defense Minister Andrey Belousov said on Friday that Ukraine lost more than 35,000 troops in May alone. Earlier in the month, Moscow estimated Kiev’s losses at over 111,000 since the start of 2024.

June 02, 2024 at 04:57PM

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