| 14 April 2024, Sunday |

Leaving behind possessions and pets, Ukrainians flee to Poland

Hundreds of Ukrainians escaping a Russian invasion began arriving in Poland on Thursday, some carrying baggage and accompanied by children at the typically quiet Medyka border.

Officials in European Union nations bordering Ukraine, including as Romania and Slovakia, stated there was no large inflow of refugees at the moment, although local media and observers reported increased foot traffic.

Alexander Bazhanov and his wife and little kid escaped their house in eastern Ukraine, carrying just what they could carry and walked the final leg of their trek into Poland.

When a colleague informed him that the fighting had begun, the 34-year-old technical manager from Mariupol, 113 kilometers (70 miles) from Donetsk, decided to travel into Poland.

“I have no sentiments other than fear,” Bazhanov said at a pedestrian border crossing roughly 400 kilometers from Warsaw. “I’m going to see my father in Spain, but I don’t have any money and have no idea how I’ll get there.”

On Thursday, Russian soldiers entered Ukraine by land, air, and sea, following President Vladimir Putin’s approval of a “special military operation” in the east.

Central European countries that share a border with Ukraine have been preparing for weeks for an expected influx of migrants seeking asylum in the European Union.

The Medyka crossing is mostly utilized by persons crossing the border for shopping or employment.

During the morning, the lines to enter the Polish border town became longer. Some individuals are concerned that Russia will extend its influence into Ukraine.

“Everyone felt western Ukraine was secure since it was near EU and NATO countries,” Maria Palys, 44, who was traveling with her family and her brother, said. “It appears to be insufficient protection.”

Russia has urged that NATO’s eastward expansion be halted, and Putin has reiterated that Ukrainian participation in the US-led military alliance is unacceptably risky.

Putin said he authorized military action because Russia had no option but to protect itself against challenges posed by modern Ukraine, a democratic state with a population of 44 million people.

Olga Pavlusik and her partner Bohdan Begey rushed to the border after hearing about the invasion, leaving their dog at home in their village in western Ukraine. They have no idea where they’re going. She told Reuters that “somewhere safe” would suffice.

  • Reuters