EU Commissioner Schinas warns of a wave of refugees if the Ukraine conflict escalates

An the face of growing tensions in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, Vice-President of the European Commission Margaritis Schinas warned that a military escalation could send more than a million refugees to the EU could come. “It is estimated that between 20,000 and more than a million refugees could come,” Schinas told the “Welt”. The EU is “ready to mobilize significant humanitarian aid and help with civil protection.”

Schinas pointed out that 20,000 EU citizens live in Ukraine alone and that “there is also a significant population group that has its roots in the EU”. The Greek EU Commissioner stressed that refugees – as in Belarus before – could be instrumentalised against the EU and deliberately used as a means of exerting pressure.

It is believed that Ukrainian refugees may initially come primarily to Poland, which shares a 535-kilometer shared border. In the event of a conflict, the Polish government had already said it was preparing for a scenario in which up to a million Ukrainian refugees would cross the border.

There are an estimated 1.5 million Ukrainians in Poland, but only 300,000 are officially registered. Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia and the start of the war in eastern Ukraine in 2014, Kiev itself has registered around 1.5 million displaced people.

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