People evacuated from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic go to the camp of the Ministry of Emergencies of Russia in the village of Veselo-Voznesenko on the coast of the Sea of Azov, February 19, 2022.
Andrei Baradulin Afp | Getty Images
Like a crisis in Ukraine is unfoldingneighboring countries are closely monitoring rainfall.
Nations around the world have imposed unprecedented sanctions against Moscow, but the economic and military consequences of the Russian invasion of Ukraine are only part of the picture.
The European continent is concerned that a full-scale invasion could lead to a major crisis with migrants – a type that has not existed since World War II – with serious humanitarian, political and social costs for both Ukrainian refugees and their countries of origin. run away.
Indeed, some Central European countries are already preparing.
Poland, which has an approximately 530-kilometer land border with Ukraine, said last month that it was preparing to receive up to 1 million Ukrainian refugees, whom they plan to house in dormitories, dormitories and sports facilities. Neighboring Romania expects migration to “Hundreds of thousands”, While Slovakia and the Czech Republic estimate the inflow at tens of thousands.
However, the nature of the situation in Ukraine means that the scale of the potential displacement of civilians is still unknown.
“As far as Europe is concerned, this is potentially one of the biggest consequences of this crisis,” Oksana Antonenko, director of global risk analysis at Control Risks, told CNBC on Tuesday.
Russia’s operation earlier this week to seize rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts was seen as likely to provoke similar internal and eastern migration, albeit on different scales. Indeed, many have already been transported to Russia.
But further incursions into central and western Ukraine on Thursday could have much broader consequences, experts warn.
The US government believes that the invasion of Ukraine could cause from one to five million Ukrainians escape from the battlefield. The Minister of Defense of Ukraine has approached this figure three to five million.
“If this happens, then, of course, we are talking about hundreds of thousands, if not millions of refugees, and they are likely to flee to Europe, not Russia,” – said Antonenko.
“If you were with Russia-occupied Ukraine, it would be a long-term European refugee,” added Roger Baker, Stratfor’s senior vice president of strategic analysis at Rane.
In this case, the lion’s share of people can move by land to border countries: Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldova and Romania. According to EU policy, Ukrainians do not need a visa to enter the Schengen area – a common travel zone for EU countries, which includes all of the above-mentioned Moldova and Romania.
But Western European countries such as Germany, France and Britain could quickly feel the moral pressure to share the burden, which the UK defense minister called the worst crisis with migrants “since the war”.
The woman is carrying her belongings, and people evacuated from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic are sitting on a bus waiting to be moved.
Andrei Baradulin AFP | Getty Images
Last week, the Pentagon said 3,000 U.S. troops had been sent to Poland to help prepare for potential influx of migrants after authorities there said they needed to be prepared for a “worst case scenario”.
“If there is a war in Ukraine, we must be ready for the influx of real refugees, people fleeing from hell, from death, from the brutality of war,” – said on Polish television, Polish Deputy Interior Minister Matej Wasik.
“As a government, we need to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, and for some time the Interior Ministry has been taking steps to prepare us for the arrival of even a million people.”
A significant Ukrainian community already lives in Poland. Although few claimed refugee status, Poland spoke out 300,000 temporary residence visas for Ukrainians in recent years. Indeed, some estimates as much as 2 million Ukrainians migrated to Poland after the annexation of Crimea.
Although human rights activists welcomed the training, many pointed to clear double standards in the willingness of Central European countries to accept refugees.
During the European migration crisis of 2015, which resulted in an influx of refugees primarily from Syria, Poland did not want to offer asylum. Most recently, in 2021, Polish border guards brutally repelled a wave of primarily migrants from Iraqi Kurdistan on the Belarusian border.
Meanwhile, the political consequences of such mass migration are not without concern. It is believed that the refugee crisis of 2015 strengthened the far-right movement against immigration, which in subsequent years unfolded throughout Europe. A similar influx of migrants could create similar problems in an already volatile environment after Covid.
But until governments learn more about the extent of the further invasion and the potential consequences of migration, their preparedness is likely to be limited.
“Even if it is likely, governments are rarely fully prepared,” Baker said. “Currently, they are focusing on short-term and preventative measures.”
“Poland is very sensitive to the situation,” he said, adding that the others “are not looking for or hoping for the best.”