Austria refuses to deport draft-eligible men to Ukraine

A soldier of Ukraine's 3rd Separate Assault Brigade gives first aid to his wounded comrade, call sign Polumya (Flame), 19, near Bakhmut, the site of fierce battles with the Russian forces in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Libkos)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

With Ukraine increasingly desperate for men to send to the front, it is pushing for countries in the area to send draft-eligible Ukrainians who fled at the beginning of the war. However, some countries are balking at the demand, including Austria. The country’s Internal Ministry said it will not extradite draft-age Ukrainian men back to Ukraine.

Ukraine expects that all Western European countries that have taken in Ukrainian refugees will send back men of conscription age to their homeland so that they can be drafted into the military and sent to the frontlines, which was announced by the leader of the parliamentary faction of the Servant of the People party, Davyd Arakhamia.

“Actually, in every country in the world, except for Russia, our law enforcement agencies can file a request for the extradition of such persons and bring them back to Ukraine,” said Arakhamia.

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Meanwhile, the Austrian Ministry of the Interior has stated that the possibility of deporting Ukrainian men back to Ukraine with the prospect of sending them to the frontlines “is absolutely not being considered.”

“Even if a written request from the Ukrainian government is received in Vienna, it will be ignored. Austria will not allow anyone to dictate terms,” said a spokesperson for the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, quoted by the Austrian news outlet Exxpress.

According to the press report, currently around 14,000 men aged between 18 and 54 who have left Ukraine due to the war are residing in Austria. The government in Vienna has provided assistance to a total of 101,629 refugees: men, women, children and the elderly.

As of June 2023, 5.6 to 6.7 million citizens have fled from Ukraine before the war. Authorities in Kyiv estimate that 63 percent plan to return to their homeland. Other countries, such as Poland, have taken a different approach than Austria, with the government considering deporting back potentially tens of thousands of fighting-age Ukrainian men.

The official casualty figures for the Ukrainian army since the start of the Russian invasion in February 2022 are not known. Authorities in Kyiv are keeping these figures a secret, just like Moscow.

In August, the New York Times reported that the losses for Ukraine and Russia combined are half a million soldiers, including 120,000 killed and 180,000 injured on the Russian side, and 70,000 killed and 120,000 injured on the Ukrainian side.

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