Upwards of 1.5 million Ukrainians were estimated Sunday to have been displaced by Russian invasion forces as thousands more make ready to escape a homeland convulsed by war.
U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi used social media to lament what he earlier called “the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.”
Grandi, currently visiting countries that border Ukraine, gave no precise figures to back his estimate.
Today at Palanca I saw thousands and thousands of people streaming across Ukraine’s border crossing with Moldova.
Thousands of stories of separation, anguish, and loss.
A difficult day, but much respect for the many dedicated Moldovan officials and people helping the refugees. pic.twitter.com/84dPcFcCPG
— Filippo Grandi (@FilippoGrandi) March 4, 2022
Hours earlier Ukrainian President Voldymyr Zelensky went on television wearing what has become a habitual military green T-shirt and rallied his people to remain defiant.
“Ukrainians in all of our cities that the enemy has entered — go on the offensive!” Zelensky said. “You should take to the streets! You should fight! … It is necessary to go out and drive this evil out of our cities, from our land.”
The small border town has seen a surge of people fleeing from neighbouring Ukraine since Russia began military operations in February, with at least 63,000 Ukrainian refugees having arrived https://t.co/2FbktzWvUT
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) March 6, 2022
He spoke as Russian forces surrounded several Ukrainian cities and maintained a convoy outside the capital, Kyiv.
British military officials on Sunday compared Russia’s tactics in Ukraine to those used in Chechnya and Syria, where surrounded cities were flattened with airstrikes and artillery after Russian forces faced unexpected resistance, AP reports.
An elderly lady is assisted while crossing the Irpin river, under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, as civilians flee the town of Irpin, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)
Nigeria students in Ukraine wait at the platform in Lviv railway station, Feb. 27, 2022, in Lviv, west Ukraine as they try to flee the Russian advance. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue, File)
The strength of Ukrainian resistance continues to surprise Russian forces and they have responded by targeting populated areas, including the cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv and Mariupol, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in its daily intelligence briefing.
“This is likely to represent an effort to break Ukrainian morale,” the ministry said, according to AP. “Russia has used similar tactics in Chechnya in 1999 and Syria in 2016, employing both air and ground-based munitions.”
The precise death toll of the conflict is difficult to measure.
The U.N. human rights office said at least 351 civilians have been confirmed killed, but the true number is probably much higher. Russian and Ukrainian defense officials have not provided information on their military causalities.
Destroyed Russian armored vehicles block a roadway in the city of Bucha, west of Kyiv, on March 4, 2022. (ARIS MESSINIS/AFP via Getty Images)
A third round of talks between Russia and Ukraine will take place Monday, according to Davyd Arakhamia, a member of the Ukrainian delegation. He gave no additional details, including where they would take place.
Previous meetings were held in Belarus. Those talks led to the ceasefire agreement that failed Saturday and was revived Sunday.