Most Russians who fled the army call up can stay longer: minister


Russians who fled to the Netherlands simply because they feared being called up for the army to fight in Ukraine will not fall under an extended moratorium on deportations, junior justice minister Eric van der Burg has confirmed.

Three months ago Van der Burg said that Russian nationals could stay in the Netherlands, to ensure that they did not face prosecution if they were sent back. This week he extended the decision not to deport Russian conscripts aged 18 to 27 until next July.

However, now Russia has said it has completed the call up and the immigration service IND has enough information to assess individual cases, people who were not called up can be treated as regular refugees, Van der Burg told MPs in a briefing.

The situation is different for Russians who have either deserted or refused to join up, and no decisions will yet be taken about their cases, the minister said. ‘This is because there is a lack of current, clear and trustworthy information about to the extent to which conscripts are being used in the war in Ukraine,’ Van der Burg said.

Martijn van der Linden from refugee aid group Vluchtelingenwerk Nederland told broadcaster NOS that he does not understand why Russians who fled because they feared being called up are being treated differently to those who refused to serve.

In addition, only a few dozen of the hundreds of thousands of Russians who fled the country are in the Netherlands. ‘We are not talking about a significant group requiring a speedy solution,’ he said.

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