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Russia-Ukraine crisis: Ukrainian men return from abroad to defend homeland

While tens of thousands of refugees are leaving Ukraine amid the attack, some Ukrainians are returning home from across Europe.



Published: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 2:39 PM

Last updated: Sun 27 Feb 2022, 2:42 PM

While tens of thousands of refugees are leaving Ukraine amid Russia’s attack on the country, some Ukrainian men and women are returning home from across Europe to help defend their homeland.

At the checkpoint in Medyka, in southeastern Poland, many were standing in a line early Sunday to cross into Ukraine.

“We have to defend our homeland. Who else if not us,” said a moustachioed man in front of a group of some 20 Ukrainian truck drivers walking to the checkpoint to enter Ukraine. They came from across Europe to return to Ukraine. They spoke to The Associated Press in Ukrainian and in Russian.

Another man in the group said: “The Russians should be afraid. We are not afraid.”

Members of the group declined to give their names, or only gave their first names, citing their security and that of their families.

A woman in her 30s who gave her first name, Lesa, spoke to the AP just before entering the checkpoint building. “I am afraid, but I am a mother and want to be with my children. What can you do? It’s scary but I have to.”

Another young woman said she, too, was returning to take care of her children, so that Ukrainian men can defend the country.

“We have to, we Ukrainians have to take our children away ... to allow our boys to fight,” she said.

At least 150,000 people have fled Ukraine into Poland and other neighboring countries in the wake of the crisis, the UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, said Saturday. It did not give the figures for those going to Ukraine.

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