Poland, Lithuania Say They Can Help Return Military-Age Men to Ukraine

Ukraine has cut off consular services for military-age men living abroad to pressure them to return home and fight

Poland and Lithuania have said they can help return military-age Ukrainian men to Ukraine as Kyiv is looking for more conscripts to put on the frontlines, where Ukrainian forces are facing a brutal fight and an advancing Russian army.

The comments came after Ukraine announced it was suspending consular services for military-age men living abroad as a way to pressure them to return home to fight. The restrictions include prohibiting men ages 18 to 60 from applying for passports while abroad.

Polish Defense Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz said Wednesday that Warsaw has “suggested for a long time that we can help the Ukrainian side ensure that people subject to [compulsory] military service go to Ukraine.” When asked if Poland would agree to transport Ukrainians back to Ukraine, he said, “Everything is possible.”

Lithuanian Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas said Vilnius was also willing to help send Ukrainians back to fight. He suggested Lithuania wouldn’t be willing to physically deport Ukrainians but could pressure them in other ways.

“Of course, no one will collect them and take them to Ukraine – this will not happen,”  Kasciunas said. “But (it is possible to limit these persons) in terms of social benefits, work permits, documents – these are options that I hear from the Polish side as well. So, let’s wait and see what option they will offer, maybe it will also be suitable for Lithuania.”

It’s estimated that about 860,000 Ukrainian men are living outside of Ukraine in Europe. Some were able to leave Ukraine despite martial law prohibiting men ages 18 to 60 from leaving the country. Others lived outside of Ukraine before Russia launched its invasion in February 2022.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.