Fact Check: EU Is NOT Deporting Ukrainian Refugee Men Back Home For Military Conscription


  • szerzõ: Lead Stories
Fact Check: EU Is NOT Deporting Ukrainian Refugee Men Back Home For Military Conscription No Deportation

Are Ukrainian refugee men deported back home by the EU for compulsory military conscription? No, that's not true: The video in which this claim appeared shows a young man clutching what he says is an EU expulsion order, but it is actually a Spanish document that refugees use to obtain temporary protection status. Ukrainian diplomatic institutions have no authority to order deportations in foreign countries, and host countries are unlikely to expel Ukrainian refugees unless they "maliciously violate" the law, attorneys say. Moreover, forced repatriations fall under the jurisdiction of national authorities, not the EU.

The claim appeared in a Hungarian-subtitled video (archived here) on TikTok on September 6, 2023, under the caption, "At Kyiv's request, the EU is deporting Ukrainian men for conscription." A Russian-speaking young man who presents himself as a Ukrainian refugee in an unnamed EU country says:

Friends, in short, it's time for some bad news. I don't know what to do. F--k! In short, I just got this letter. Here it is, my picture is on it. I translated it. It says Ukraine sent a request. According to the Ukrainian authorities, I entered European Union territory illegally. Even though I entered legally... And, they write, I have to leave the European Union within two weeks. That's how it is. Otherwise they'll forcibly deport me to Ukrainian territory. I don't know what to do... It is illegal for the European Union to deport anyone to a place where there's a war. In addition, a long prison sentence would await me on Ukrainian territory.

(All translations from Hungarian to English by Lead Stories.)

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Ukrainian man deported.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Sep 29 06:54:58 2023 UTC)

The video appeared on September 5, 2023, on a Telegram channel belonging to Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian journalist who has been linked to Kremlin propaganda operations.

Screen Shot 2023-09-29 at 16.45.54.png

(Source: Telegram screenshot taken on Fri Sep 29 09:54:58 2023 UTC)

French news portal TF1 Info revealed that the document in the young man's hands was not an EU expulsion order. Rather, it bears the logo of the Spanish police along with the English title, "Temporary protection request for displaced persons."

Screen Shot 2023-09-29 at 14.13.51.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Fri Sep 29 12:13:51 2023 UTC)

Half of the document visible in the video is identical to a sample document for refugees available on the website of the Barcelona Bar Association (ICAB). Bot documents contain the same numerical reference to Spanish Royal Decree 1325/2003, which concerns "the temporary protection regime in the event of a massive influx of displaced people." (Translation by Google Translate.)

Screen Shot 2023-09-29 at 13.49.20.png

(Source: ICAB screenshot taken on Fri Sep 29 11:49:20 2023 UTC)

If the young man is actually a Ukrainian citizen, he may be subject to the draft back home. Ukrainian martial law forbids men aged 18-60 to leave the country unless they qualify for an exemption, and those who depart for more than three months must register at a Ukrainian diplomatic institution in their host country, according to Ukraine's Resolution 1487, passed on December 30, 2022. The law requires Ukrainian consulates to inform expatriate men about upcoming conscription rounds and to "facilitate" their return to Ukraine.

However, "facilitate" does not mean "force," military lawyer Yaroslav Zhukrovsky told Ukrainian news portal Hromadske in an article published on May 3, 2023:

The word 'facilitate' causes the most discussions here. Rumors that Ukrainians abroad will be packed into a bus and forcibly taken to Ukraine are not true. But Ukrainian legislation does not explain what exactly 'facilitating return' means.

Foreign missions cannot serve summonses, according to Ukrainian legislation... Military registration in foreign diplomatic institutions is, most likely, a declarative mechanism for finding out the data of Ukrainian citizens. Ignoring this rule is not grounds for deportation. Diplomatic institutions have no legal grounds for this. (Translation by Google Translate.)

Foreign countries generally extradite criminal suspects, and Ukrainians trying to escape the war are not criminals, Ukrainian attorney Kateryna Anischenko told news outlet RBC Ukraine in a report published on January 5, 2023. She said:

As for the possible expulsion of citizens of Ukraine by foreign states... I think that a specific type of administrative penalty, which consists of inviting a foreigner or stateless person to voluntarily leave the country of residence, can only be applied to persons who maliciously violate the order of the country of their residence. (Translation by Google Translate.)

Moreover, the EU does not decide whether to deport aliens on its territory, national authorities do. As a statement on the website of EU border-control agency Frontex says:

Frontex has no role in [deportation] procedures and does not enter into the merits of return decisions issued by national authorities. Only when a return decision is adopted and is legally enforceable (i.e., when the person has had the possibility to use all legal remedies such as appeals and there are no legal obstacles to implement the decision), can Frontex provide operational and technical support to a requesting EU/Schengen country within the different phases of the return process.


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