Efforts to process the refugee influx have coincided with heightened security measures, the Russian Border Guard chief has said.
More than 3.5 million Ukrainian citizens have crossed into Russia since Moscow launched its military operation more than a year ago, Vladimir Kulishov, the head of Border Guard Service, said on Saturday.
Speaking to TASS news agency, Kulishov noted that “due to the aggravated humanitarian situation in the area of hostilities” Russian authorities have taken a number of steps to facilitate entry for millions of Ukrainians. The official did not clarify whether the figure represents the number of Ukrainians who have remained in Russia, or whether some of them later left the country. Kulishov said the conflict has resulted in an “escalation of military threats” to the nation’s border, stemming from Kiev’s attempts to “stage provocative acts” and send sabotage and reconnaissance forces into Russia. Earlier this month, a Ukrainian raid in the Belgorod Region, near the Ukrainian border, left one civilian dead and several others injured.
To stave off any such incidents in the future, Russian authorities have ramped up security measures in the border area, including creating defense fortifications, Kulishov explained.
TASS reported in March, citing a source in law enforcement, that the total number of refugees from Ukraine and Russia’s Donbass Region had reached more than 5.4 million since the start of conflict, including 744,000 children, with local authorities providing them with medical, financial, and legal assistance.
Aside from Russia, Ukrainians have also fled to other European countries, with a total of four million refugees currently under various protection schemes in the EU, according to Eurostat.