Another EU state could help Kiev repatriate military-aged men

Lithuania may follow Poland’s suit in dealing with fighting age Ukrainians, the country’s defense chief has claimed

Lithuanian Defense Minister Laurynas Kasciunas has stated that Ukraine is “very short of mobilization reserves,” after Kiev suspended issuing new passports to conscription age men residing abroad.

Ukraine banned all men between the ages of 18 and 60 from receiving or renewing documents at consular offices, unless they are properly registered for mobilization. Poland suggested on Wednesday it could eventually help Kiev repatriate its undocumented citizens.

While Lithuania is not yet ready to introduce any concrete measures on its own – it will closely follow the decisions adopted by its EU neighbor, Kasciunas told reporters at the parliament, the Seimas, on Thursday.

“The direction is right… but it is too early to say what measures this will transform into,” the minister said, noting that potential options could include limiting these persons’ access to “social benefits, work permits, documents.”

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“So let’s wait and see what option they [Poland] will offer, maybe it will be suitable for Lithuania,” Kasciunas added. “Of course, no one will round up and send them to Ukraine – this will not happen,” the minister insisted.

According to EU officials, an estimated 860,000 Ukrainian men of fighting age are living in the bloc. Kasciunas could not say how many of them are currently in Lithuania, but said there were “not many.”

“Ukraine is very short of mobilization reserves… This is not fair to those citizens who are fighting for their country,” Kasciunas argued, echoing the words of his Polish counterpart, who had claimed that Ukrainian soldiers have “justified grievances against their peers who have scattered around the world.”

Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba claimed on Tuesday that the decision to strip Ukrainian men of their rights was “fair” and in line with controversial military mobilization reforms, which President Vladimir Zelensky signed into law this month.

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