Feb 28, 2022 - World

Ukrainians abroad return home to fight against Russia

Ukrainian volunteers in Kyiv

Kyiv residents and volunteers prepare a rear post with trenches in Kyiv on Monday. Photo: Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP via Getty Images

As Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine enters its fifth day, Ukrainians abroad have been been returning home to join the fight against Russia.

Driving the news: Russian forces have shelled civilian areas and prompted concerns of a humanitarian crisis. The UN Refugee agency on Monday said that 500,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled into neighboring countries since Russia's attack began.

  • On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on all "citizens of the world" to join the fight against Russia's invasion, encouraging those so inclined to contact their country's Ukrainian embassy.

The big picture: Most of the Ukrainians living across Europe who are returning to their homeland to fight the Russian invasion have no combat experience, little to no training, and only a few have their own weapons, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Poland's border guard estimated Sunday that since the start of the invasion roughly 22,000 people have crossed its border into Ukraine to join the fray, AP reported.
  • The Czech Republic, which doesn't border Ukraine but has a large Ukrainian population, is preparing to distribute bonuses to financially support Ukrainian families in the country who may lose income if family members leave to join the fight against Russia's invasion, per AP.
  • The Czech Republic's state-run railway will also allow Ukrainians traveling back to Ukraine to take any train free of charge.
  • Some Ukrainians living in Ireland have also been flying out to Poland, with plans to drive to Ukraine from Krakow and take part in the fight, RTE reported.

Worth noting: The call to fight has also been heard by non-Ukrainians.

  • One Facebook group has rallied Belarusians living in Poland to go to Kyiv to join the resistance, per the Journal.
  • In a since-deleted post, the the Ukrainian embassy in Tel Aviv issued a callout Saturday for volunteers willing to join the fight in Ukraine to submit their contact information, the Guardian reported.
  • British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC Sunday that she would support individuals from the U.K. who choose to go to Ukraine to fight.
  • Some Irish people living in Ukraine have chosen to stay and defend their adopted country rather than returning to Ireland, Irish Central reported.
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