Tens of thousands flee Ukraine as Russian forces advance on Kyiv

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Tens of thousands flee Ukraine as Russian forces advance on Kyiv


Tens of thousands flee Ukraine as Russian forces advance on Kyiv


Tens of thousands flee Ukraine as Russian forces advance on Kyiv

Ukraine's president vows to stay as Kyiv residents shelter underground again

Tens of thousands of people are fleeing Ukraine, rushing to neighbouring countries by car and on foot to escape danger from invading Russian troops.

The conflict has already driven hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians from their homes. United Nations officials said Saturday that more than 150,000 people from Ukraine have left the country for Poland, Moldova and other neighbouring nations.

The largest numbers were arriving in Poland, where two million Ukrainians have already settled to work in recent years.

At southeastern Poland's Medyka crossing, some said they had walked for 35 kilometres to reach the border.

"They didn't have food, no tea, they were standing in the middle of a field, on the road, kids were freezing," said Iryna Wiklenko as she waited on the Polish side for her grandchildren and her daughter-in-law to make it across.

The line of vehicles waiting to enter Poland at the Medyka crossing stretched many miles into Ukraine. A woman from Lviv, who was bringing her four children to safety in Poland, described toys and bags along the way that were so heavy that people abandoned them.

Poland's government said Saturday that more than 100,000 Ukrainians had crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border in the past 48 hours alone. The UN estimates that up to four million could flee if the fighting escalates.

A person carries a child as people arrive at a train station at the border control between Poland and Ukraine at Przemysl, Poland, on Friday. (Kacper Pempel/Reuters)

One family from Chernivtsi in western Ukraine waited 20 hours before being able to cross the border into Siret in northern Romania.

Even Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, one of Europe's most anti-migrant leaders, travelled to the border town of Beregsurany, where he said Hungary was accepting all citizens and legal residents of Ukraine.

"We're letting everyone in," Orban said.

Refugees arriving in the Hungarian border town of Zahony said men between 18 and 60 were not being allowed to leave Ukraine.

"My son was not allowed to come. My heart is so sore, I'm shaking," said Vilma Sugar, 68.

People comfort a woman arriving from Ukraine at a border crossing in Beregsurány, Hungary, on Saturday. (Bernadett Szabo/Reuters)

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) also said in a statement Saturday that is is taking additional steps to support Ukrainians by prioritizing permanent and temporary residence applications.

Thousands more take shelter in Kyiv

Kyiv residents braced for another night of sheltering underground on Saturday, as Russian troops closed in on the Ukrainian capital and skirmishes were reported on its outskirts.

Ukraine's leader, meanwhile, claimed the country's forces had repulsed the Russian assault on Kyiv and vowed to keep up the struggle as he appealed for more help from the outside world.

"The real fighting for Kyiv is ongoing," President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a video message, accusing Russia of hitting infrastructure and civilian targets. "We will win."

The U.S. government had urged Zelensky to evacuate Kyiv but he declined, according to a senior American intelligence official with direct knowledge of the conversation. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, quoted the president as saying he needed anti-tank ammunition but "not a ride."

"The fight is here," Zelensky said.