A Russian conscript who refused to go to war against Ukraine described a grueling four-day escape spanning thousands of miles with like-minded young draft dodgers.
The exile of the 21-year-old Eboshi was set in motion when he got an electronic draft summons last week, he told Business Insider Sunday under a pseudonym.
On Sept. 21, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin announced 300,000 men would be drafted to fight his unprovoked invasion of Ukraine amid a series of embarrassing Russian tactical losses to its under-matched opponent.
Eboshi, whose parents are Ukrainian, immediately decided it was time to flee Russia, he told the outlet from an undisclosed border nation.
“I’m ethnically Ukrainian. I cannot go to war against a country where my family lives,” he said.
Carrying only a backpack, Eboshi embarked on an 1,800-mile train ride from Siberia to Moscow last Sunday, according to the report — a train he said was packed with other young men who also appeared to be fleeing Russia.
“It was so hard to leave all my belongings and loved ones behind in my home country and go with my backpack into the unknown,” he told the outlet over a messaging app.
From Moscow, Eboshi made his way to a bordering country, risking a 10-year prison penalty for defying the military. European Union nations had shuttered their borders to Russia, but Kazakhstan and Georgia still welcomed visitors from the country without visas.
The young man had loose plans to leave his undisclosed location and to travel to Vietnam or Thailand.
“I’m just scared for my life,” Eboshi said. “I’m worried about maybe not being able to go back to my country in the next couple of years, and if I can’t go back, things will be really bad here.”
Eboshi suffers from a chronic skin condition that should exempt him from fighting on medical grounds, but as Moscow continued to move the goalposts — reportedly drafting older, sick and untrained men — the refugee said he couldn’t afford to take that risk.
“I was collecting documents hoping to prove that I have an illness that would result in me not being called up,” he told the outlet. “But in today’s reality, most likely they would not pay attention to this. The standards have been dramatically lowered.”
Russia annexed four eastern Ukraine provinces last week as it ramped up the war effort, citing the results of a sham election the United Nations has decreed as illegal.
The entire conflict had deeply unsettled the young draft dodger.
“It’s a terrible mistake,” Eboshi said of the war. “Neighboring nations are killing each other over one old moron.”
“I don’t know how long I will be away from Russia, but it will be until Russia stops this senseless and horrible war that people don’t want.”