Russian Army Deserter Who Fled Ukraine War Detained in Poland

A 41-year-old Russian deserter was apprehended by Polish border police. He was reportedly fighting in Ukraine prior to illegally crossing into Poland from Belarus.

He was unarmed and had Russian military documentation, such as a contract to fight in Russia’s conflict with Ukraine.

In February, an investigative Russian publication headquartered in Latvia said that many Russian army deserters would often seek refuge in Kazakhstan, a nation with strong links to neighboring Russia and where Russian citizens do not need to possess a foreign passport.

The intended full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia has been plagued by desertions within Russia’s forces. The UK’s Ministry of Defense speculated in 2022 that senior Kremlin officials may have approved the use of lethal force against deserters.

Out of the more than 18,000 Russian personnel who have fled their postings in the Southern Military District, almost 12,000 are members of the 8th Combined Arms Army in eastern Ukraine. The Russian 58th Combined Arms Army has lost around 2,500 soldiers, according to a Telegram channel.

According to the National Border Guard, dozens of Ukrainians have lost their lives trying to avoid being conscripted into the Ukrainian military to fight Russia.

After Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, tens of thousands of military-aged men attempted to flee overseas. However, the exact number of persons who died trying to escape the conscription has only now come to light. Human traffickers who solicit money in exchange for facilitating the smuggling of people fleeing Ukraine’s martial rule to Europe were denounced this week by Andrii Demchenko, who is an adviser to the head of Ukraine’s State Border Service.

Anyone of military age in Ukraine has been required to get official authorization before leaving the country since 2022.  Under martial law, 450 criminal organizations were found to specialize in human smuggling, according to Col. Demchenko.

Demchenko said the bodies of around 30 Ukrainians who were attempting to flee the country had been discovered. He believes it is due to the difficulties of swimming through mountain rivers as a reason for those fatalities, as well as the fact that fleeing civilians often have dangerous encounters with wild creatures in the highlands.

Some Ukrainians died of exposure while attempting to flee military duty over the Carpathian Mountains.