Kiev’s ‘counteroffensive’ has resulted in 90,000 casualties among its troops since June, according to Moscow Ukrainian servicemen of 24th brigade are seen at frontline positions south of Bakhmut on September 22, 2023. © Wolfgang Schwan/Getty Image

Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian men are dodging the draft at present, amid the ongoing mobilization, Deputy Defense Minister Natalya Kalmykova has said. She added that the authorities are working on legislation that will “help settle this issue.”

Speaking to Ukraine’s Rada TV on Friday, Kalmykova said that “unfortunately, we see a lot of situations… when people don’t want and plan to avoid mobilization somehow, the need to defend their country.” She claimed that the number of draft dodgers amounts to “tens, hundreds of thousands of people.”

Speaking to Ukrainskaya Pravda last week, Interior Minister Igor Klimenko warned that the Ukrainian government is looking at ways to punish those who have fled the country to avoid military service. He told the newspaper that they will likely face administrative fines, adding, however, that those who have used fake papers or illegally secured documents to allow them to leave Ukraine could end up in prison.

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In recent months, the Ukrainian authorities have reportedly been exploring the possibility of getting men of military age who have fled the country to return. In late August, a senior lawmaker from President Vladimir Zelensky’s ruling party, David Arakhamia, said Kiev could seek the extradition of draft dodgers from the EU.

Multiple EU states, including Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, have already made it clear they will not round up draft dodgers and send them back to Ukraine.

Total mobilization has been repeatedly prolonged in Ukraine ever since Russia launched its military operation in the country in February 2022. Recruitment officers regularly conduct raids in public spaces, cafes, and on the streets. Local media outlets have reported on cases in which officials have used force to detain those who refuse to join the army.

Zelensky has publicly acknowledged that Ukraine’s counteroffensive, which was launched in early June, has run into difficulties. Last month, he attributed the slow pace of the operation to Russian air superiority, as well as the failure of Kiev’s Western backers to send the necessary weapons.

Western military officials have also stated that Russian defenses have proven more resilient than expected.

Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin put the number of Ukrainian casualties since the start of the counteroffensive at 90,000, estimating that nearly 1,900 armored vehicles and 557 tanks have been destroyed as well. (RT)