Frankfurter Rundschau, Germany
(29.12.2023) The political director of the German Peace Society – United War Resisters (DFG-VK), Michael Schulze von Glaßer, has called for the permanent protection of Ukrainian conscientious objectors in Germany. “As long as Ukraine does not recognize the human right to conscientious objection to military service, Germany must not deport any refugees who are threatened with forced recruitment. Instead, all those who refuse to serve in the war must be granted protection – both from Ukraine and especially from Russia,” he told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland. Furthermore, the mostly young refugees should not be treated worse than others – for example by being deprived of citizens’ benefits.
“No one should be forced to pick up a weapon and murder other people – and no one should be forced to expose themselves to the deadly dangers on the front line,” warned Schulze von Glaßer. The DFG-VK, which has looked after conscientious objectors in Germany for decades, is particularly concerned that the German government has currently only granted protection status to Ukrainians who have fled to Germany until March 2025. This is because there is no end to the war in sight.
Military service not a reason for asylum
There are currently almost 200,000 Ukrainians of military age in Germany, and around 650,000 in the EU as a whole. They are missing from the country, which has been attacked by Russia and has suffered heavy losses. Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umjerov has therefore recently appealed to his compatriots who have fled to report to the recruitment centers of the Ukrainian armed forces.
Although there is no obligation on the German side to extradite them, conscientious objection is not grounds for asylum. And CDU defense expert Roderich Kiesewetter recently told the “Schwäbische Zeitung” newspaper: “It is right that Ukraine is now making efforts to bring these men back.” Not all of them have to fight on the front line. It is also “a difference whether a country goes to war voluntarily or, like Ukraine, defends itself against an attack by Russia waged as a war of annihilation”.
Ukrainian refugees have humanitarian residence status under the EU’s “mass influx directive” – until March 2025. According to the DFG-VK, more than 250,000 conscripts have also left Russia to escape the war.