US Embassy in Kyiv Warn Dual Citizens Might Be Stuck in Ukraine

destroyed building. view of the ruins. the wreckage of the building and the Ukrainian flag

Due to a new mobilization law, it’s possible that people who hold dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ukraine could end up being stuck in Ukraine for the long-term if they’re eligible for conscription. 

Under a new martial law that Ukraine passed, all men between the ages of 18 and 60 are banned from leaving the country. Before recently, dual citizens were allowed to get around the rule by de-registering their residency in Ukraine before they left and then register their residency in the U.S.

That all changed on June 1, when the country eliminated what was known as the “residence abroad” loophole. From now on, all dual citizens will face “an extremely high risk you will not be allowed to depart, even with a U.S. passport,” according to a notice sent out earlier this week by the U.S. embassy.

As the notice reads:

“Ukrainian law does not recognize dual citizenship. U.S.-Ukrainian dual citizens are therefore treated solely as Ukrainian citizens while in Ukraine and are subject to the rights and obligations of Ukrainian citizens.”

The embassy added that it has “limited” ability to influence the law in Ukraine or the efforts by Kyiv to draft citizens into its various armed forces as the war with Russia wages on.

The embassy also advised dual citizens who are not currently in Ukraine “who do not wish to stay in Ukraine indefinitely” to not travel there. As the notice read:

“If you are in Ukraine and cannot leave the country, shelter in place and obey all local orders.”

In April, Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, signed this new mobilization law, which is quite controversial, so that his country’s forces, which are continuing to deplete, could be replenished in its fight against Russia.

Since the law was originally passed, it’s been extended multiple times. The last time it was done, just a few weeks ago, the Parliament in Ukraine reportedly put an expiration date of August of 2024. It’s very possible — perhaps even likely — that the law will be extended much further than that.

The country has also taken other steps to boost its conscription rate, including not allowing any men who are of “fighting age” to renew a passport from outside of Ukraine. The conscription age for men in the country was also lowered to 25, when it was previously 27, under the April mobilization law.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February of 2022, millions of citizens have fled, most of whom have gone to countries that neighbor Ukraine. 

Eurostat, the statistics agency for the European Union, estimates that there are 4.3 million Ukrainian citizens living in other EU countries, and about 860,000 of them are men who are at least 18 years old.

Neighboring Poland recently said it was ready to help “in ensuring that those who are subject to compulsory military service go to Ukraine. The country did not specify how that might be done, though.