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Kiev talking to EU about extraditing Ukrainian citizens – minister

Border guards detain dozens of men seeking to flee to the EU every day, Interior Minister Igor Klimenko said

Kiev is holding negotiations with Brussels on the potential extradition of any Ukrainians who crossed into the bloc illegally, Interior Minister Igor Klimenko told the US-funded broadcaster RFE/RL.

Ukraine’s border guards are struggling to stem the flow of men fleeing the country to evade military service amid continued mobilization efforts.

“We are consulting with our colleagues from the European Union,” Klimenko said when asked if Kiev would like the EU to extradite those who have crossed illegally. “These negotiations will continue regarding the possible return of our citizens,” he added.

Ukraine announced a general mobilization in February 2022, and barred most men aged between 18 and 60 from leaving the country. Kiev’s draft campaign has been marred by widespread corruption; thousands have attempted to depart illegally by either forging documents or attempting to bypass border controls.

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Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly said they want individuals of military age to be returned from abroad. In October last year, Klimenko revealed that authorities were seeking ways to “justly” penalize citizens who had fled abroad to avoid conscription.

Multiple EU states, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, have refused to consider such extraditions, arguing that Ukrainians must be treated as refugees in the bloc. Some German politicians have since floated other “incentives” to entice Ukrainians to return home, including stripping them of welfare payments.

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

In the interview published on Friday, Klimenko admitted that the EU was “mostly” unanimous in its rejection of extradition. He also confirmed that border guards are detaining “dozens of people every day” who seek to cross the border illegally, either by swimming across rivers, traversing forests and mountains or using fake documents at checkpoints.

In early June, the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service said that at least 45 men had died of drowning and other causes in attempts to depart.

Klimenko also admitted it is “difficult” to man the nation’s western border because of a lack of personnel. “The border with Romania, with Slovakia, Poland, Moldova, Hungary is minimally protected on our side” he said.

The minister refused to reveal the total number of border detentions since the start of the conflict between Kiev and Moscow, but said “tens of thousands” was an exaggeration.

Some 12,700 men have illegally crossed from Ukraine into Romania alone since the start of the conflict, RFE/RL has reported, citing border police.

June 22, 2024 at 12:49AM

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