Ukrainian refugees rest in the school building near the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka, Poland Ukrainian refugees rest in the school building near the Polish-Ukrainian border in Medyka, Poland  (ANSA)

Refugee crisis as Belarus joins Russian invasion of Ukraine

Ukrainian authorities say troops from Belarus have entered a region in northern Ukraine to join the Russian invasion of the country. The ongoing hostilities have led to a significant number of refugees and displaced persons.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Some 100,000 desperate people have already entered Hungary, fleeing a nation in turmoil. Across the border, Ukraine is experiencing a barrage of attacks by the Russian army. 

Authorities say at least 70 Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in a Russian artillery strike on Ukraine’s north-eastern city of Okhtyrka.

It comes as a massive convoy of Russian armor, stretching about 40 miles (64 kilometers), advancing Ukraine's capital Kyiv. 

Air raid sirens once again were heard in Kyiv with reports of Russian strikes on the outskirts and inside the city. 

And dozens of civilians were reportedly killed since Monday in Russian missile strikes on Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv. 

The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, has called the missile attack an act of "state terrorism" and accuses Russia of war crimes as residential areas are also attacked. Authorities say civilians, including allegedly 16 children, were killed. 

EU membership

In an address to a special session of the European Union’s parliament, President Zelensky appealed for membership of the bloc, saying it would be stronger with Ukraine in it. 

As the internationally condemned Russian invasion of Ukraine continued, the International Criminal Court's prosecutor announced he wanted to investigate Russia for possible war crimes.

There were no signs of Moscow halting its operations, with local journalists in Kherson saying Russian troops almost surround the city. 

Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, even offered a new justification for Russia's invasion – telling a United Nations conference to prevent Ukraine from acquiring nuclear weapons. 

But Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson accuses Russia of "barbaric and indiscriminate" attacks and says he is ready to intensify economic sanctions on Russia for as long as it takes.

The fighting escalated after Kyiv and Moscow held initial ceasefire talks in Belarus, which failed to end Europe’s most significant conflict since World War Two.

People fleeing

And that is why people here continue to flee towards Hungary as well as to other neighboring nations.

Some have spoken about leaving behind everything they worked for as they cross this border with the last personal belongings they could grab. 

Many women and children are among the refugees as all Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 have been mobilized to face an army of as many as 200,000 troops. 

Hungary says it will continue to welcome refugees here and participate in humanitarian aid. 

However, the government, which long maintained good ties with the Kremlin, says it will not send troops or arms to Ukraine, and Hungary won’t allow lethal weapons to transit its territory. 

01 March 2022, 15:38