Ukraine: Draft evasion and desertion, and the consequences under criminal law

by Connection e.V.

(18.11.2017) It is estimated that hundreds of thousands have refused to be called up, are still living in Ukraine or have fled to neighbouring countries.[1]

Desertion and avoiding conscription can attract prison sentences of up to three years according to Articles 335 and 336 of the Criminal Code.[2] In February 2016 the Ukrainian defence ministry reported that 26,800 cases had been brought against draft dodgers.[3] The Ukrainian public prosecutor, meanwhile, has announced that the cases brought against deserters numbered 16,000.[4]

On 5 February 2015 the Ukrainian parliament passed a law that defines new ways in which the army can respond to disobedience, defiance or challenge to the commander, use of violence and the abandonment of battle position. The law states: “In a combat situation, the commander may use weapons or give orders to subordinates on their application if no other way to stop the offence exists".[5] Thus, in the words of the publication Newsweek, "commanders are allowed to fire at army deserters or those being insubordinate."[6]


[1] Roger Annis: Ukrainians are Voting With Their Feet Against War and Economic Disaster. 12 August 2015.

[2] Australian Government, Refugee Review Tribunal: Country Advice Ukraine. 11 December 2009.

[3] Ukraine plans stealth military draft as recruitment plummets. 6 February 2016.

[4] Global Research: Ultimate fiasco of the Ukrainian army. 7 November 2015.

[5] Based on Newsweek, 6 February 2015, op cit. Legislation can be downloaded at

[6] Newsweek, 6 February 2015, op cit, see also Global Ukraine – Military Personnel; page last updated on 9 February 2017.

Source: Dossier to Ruslan Kotsaba, originally composed by Connection e.V. and DFG-VK, June 2016. Last updated by Connection e.V. November 18, 2017.

Keywords:    ⇒ Conscription   ⇒ Desertion   ⇒ Draft Evasion   ⇒ Ukraine