“Conscription” at gunpoint: what to do when you are mobilized to the occupation army

Almost everywhere in the TOT of Ukraine, the occupiers apply a common practice – forced mobilization of the locals. They started this shameful practice in 2014. Refusal to receive a “summons” from representatives of the occupation authorities can cost a person their life. How to deal with this?

Lawyers unanimously state that this is an international crime, and a violation of the Geneva Convention in particular. This practice should be considered in the complex context of a legal assessment of all the consequences of the Russian aggression, if they become the subject of attention of the International Criminal Court. After all, international law forbids the occupying power to force civilians to serve in its armed forces (Article 51 of the IV Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War).

Nevertheless, the Russian occupiers in the TOT literally hunt down men of military age (it is “extended – from 18 to 65 years old) and forcefully bring them to “military recruitment centers”. They are forbidden to leave the territory of the region. For example, in Crimea, given the obvious failure of the conscription campaign, they recently announced a ban on leaving the peninsula from April 30, so that potential conscripts do not have time to hide from the war.

Moreover, Russia has begun to involve Ukrainian children in the war, as Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova emphasized. The participation of 8 children in such actions has already been recorded. For example, in the Kharkiv region, a 12-year-old teenager used telegram channels to send information about the location of equipment, checkpoints and the Armed Forces of Ukraine. A similar fact was reported in Luhansk region.

Russians consider mobilized Ukrainian citizens in the Russian armed forces to be “slaves” and “cannon fodder”. This is what most of the forcibly mobilized Crimeans and residents of Donetsk and Luhansk regions admit when they are captured by the Ukrainian armed forces.

What to do to avoid being taken to an occupants’ “recruitment center”:

First of all, try to use different forms of conscription sabotage:

– Avoid receiving calls and calls from occupation “military enlistment offices” in person;

– change your phone number or temporarily stop using it if it is known to the occupation authorities;

– change your place of residence and do not report it;

– if you are contacted, do not refuse to perform the “duty” directly, but justify the reasons why you cannot serve, such as health, religious beliefs, etc. It is advisable to prove the reason with documents, so be prepared.

What to do if you still get conscripted:

– surrender to the Ukrainian Armed Forces at the first safe opportunity and report that you are a citizen of Ukraine. Then you are only a victim of a war crime and will return home alive;

– remember: sooner or later, those responsible for the illegal mobilization of you into the Russian Armed Forces will be held criminally liable under Article 438 of the Criminal Code, or by the ICC for violating Article 8-2(b) xv of the Rome Statute;

– do not execute illegal orders that may result in civilian casualties or destruction of civilian infrastructure. Otherwise, your actions will be qualified as a crime without a statute of limitations, even if you are subject to conscription.

WARNING. If you voluntarily join the Russian Armed Forces and participate in the war with Ukraine, these actions will be a crime under our legislation, which may result in imprisonment for up to 15 years.

And most importantly: even in a difficult situation, cherish your love for your loved ones and loyalty to the state. Remember: they are waiting for you at home!

This article was prepared using information from the website of the human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties, ZMINA Human Rights Center and other open sources.