US is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing invasion, White House says

Many European nations scrambling to help Ukrainians

Andrew Buncombe
Chief US Correspondent
Friday 25 February 2022 01:42
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Putin declares military offensive in Ukraine

The White House has said the US is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees fleeing the invasion by Russia.

As reports suggested as many as 100,000 Ukrainians had already left their homes in the wake of the invasion by Russian forces, the White House said it was prepared to accept refugees and to assist countries in Europe where people may head.

“We are,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told CNN on Thursday, when when asked if the US was prepared to help in such a manner.

“But we certainly expect that most if not the majority will want to go to Europe and neighbouring countries,” she added.

Several thousand Ukrainians have crossed into neighbouring countries, mainly Moldova and Romania, while an estimated 100,000 have fled their homes and are uprooted in the country after Russia’s invasion, the UN refugee agency said on Thursday.

Shabia Mantoo, spokesperson of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the figures were compiled from reports from national authorities and its staff and partner agencies.

“It’s a ballpark figure,” she told Reuters.

Meanwhile, other countries in Europe were scrambling to prepare as hundreds of people started arriving at reception centres.

The countries on the European Union’s eastern flank were all once part of the Moscow-led Warsaw Pact and are now members of Nato. Among them, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all share land borders with Ukraine.

Russia has launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one state against another in Europe since World War II. It has fuelled fears of a massive flood of refugees fleeing Ukraine, a nation of 44 million people.

Poland called for the “fiercest possible sanctions” against Russia. Czech President Milos Zeman, long sympathetic to Moscow, called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “madman” and Prague stopped issuing visas to Russians and ordered closure of two Russian consulates.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has also forged good ties with Mr Putin, also condemned Moscow’s actions. He said Hungary would prepare humanitarian aid for Ukraine and was ready to receive refugees.

Ukrainians started trickling into Poland, home to the region’s largest Ukrainian community of around 1 million and the easiest EU country to reach from Kiev.

Additional reporting by agencies

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