All Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 are now banned from leaving the country, according to Ukraine’s state border guard service (DPSA). The ban will remain in place for the duration of martial law, which was imposed by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Thursday morning after Russia invaded Ukraine.
“The State Border Guard Service of Ukraine reports that due to the imposition of martial law in Ukraine, a certain category of citizens is temporarily restricted from leaving Ukraine,” the country’s interior ministry announced on Telegram on Thursday, just before midnight. “In particular, male citizens of Ukraine aged 18 to 60 are prohibited from leaving Ukraine. Such a rule will apply for the period of martial law. We ask citizens to take this information into account.”
The imposition of martial law means that military officials and soldiers, rather than civilian leaders, are charged with deciding and enforcing the laws of the nation. Anyone caught in violation of martial law could end up facing military tribunals.
Zelenskyy enforced the measures amid missile strikes and acts of military aggression by Russian forces across Ukraine, and the ban on so many males leaving the country is aimed at “guaranteeing Ukraine's defence and the organisation of timely mobilisation,” DPSA said. The president has also encouraged Ukrainian citizens willing to fight to come forward, and promised weapons for anyone who wants them, while the country’s defence minister, Oleksiy Reznikov, has called on anyone with a Ukrainian passport to enlist in the army.
“The enemy is attacking, but our army is indestructible,” Reznikov said. “Ukraine is moving into all-out defence mode.”
The defensive potential of that military against the Russian invaders is now starting to come to light.
In the early hours of Friday morning, the Ukrainian interior ministry posted a statement to Telegram announcing that Ukrainian forces had destroyed more than 30 Russian tanks and more than 130 armoured vehicles, as well as at least five aircraft and six helicopters. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence further claimed that Russia had lost about 800 soldiers.
“Our fighters persevered yesterday and made it clear to the enemy how Ukrainian lead tastes,” the interior ministry declared. “For the last eight years, our military has been fighting for the future of all the Ukrainian people. Today is the moment when every Ukrainian who can protect his home must take up arms. Not just to help our soldiers but to cleanse Ukraine of the enemy once and for all.
“The mobilisation will be held in all regions and the city of Kyiv!”
One Ukrainian man told VICE World News he understands the government’s departure ban, calling it the “logical thing to do.” “We have a war on our hands,” he said. “We need to mobilize in order to survive.”
Others, already abroad, are returning to Ukraine to fight for their country. An estimated 300,000 veterans of the nearly eight-year war in Donbas have also sworn to keep fighting.
As of time of publication, Zelenskyy said 137 Ukrainian soldiers had been killed, with another 316 injured.
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