Over 360,000 Ukrainians in Türkiye return: Envoy

Over 360,000 Ukrainians in Türkiye return: Envoy

ANKARA - Demirören News Agency
Over 360,000 Ukrainians in Türkiye return: Envoy

Over 360,000 Ukrainians who had to immigrate to Türkiye after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have returned to Ukraine or Poland, Ukraine’s ambassador to Ankara, Vasyl Bodnar, has announced.

“More than 400,000 Ukrainian citizens have entered Türkiye since Feb. 20, but as of now about 40,000 remain,” said Bodnar, noting that those who had to leave the country mostly went to border countries.

They mostly return to Ukraine via Poland or go to European countries, Bodnar added.

Stating that families that left Ukraine with their own cars also return to Ukraine via Bulgaria and Romania, Bodnar describes the return of Ukrainians after the active phase of the war as their “desire to participate in the reconstruction efforts of their country.”

“Some 11 million people departed from Ukraine due to the war, according to a U.N. report,” said Bodnar, adding that 7.2 million of them have returned.

“However, the process continues. We need to continue living there and revitalize the areas liberated from the occupation.”

Bodnar also said Russia wants to include the lands it occupied with the referendum to be held in Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhia, calling the move “a violation of international law and humanitarian law.”

Four Russian-occupied regions in Ukraine have said they are planning to hold “referendums” on joining the Russian Federation. But Ukraine said that they will not recognize the annexations.

According to the principle of international law and territorial integrity, all the lands on which the referendums will be held belong to Ukraine, he said.

“The referendums will have no legal validity neither for Ukraine nor for the Ukrainians,” said Bodnar, suggesting that “no one in the international community will recognize them.”

“This will certainly not prevent us from taking back our occupied lands,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization in Russia on Sept. 21 as the war in Ukraine reaches nearly seven months and Moscow loses ground in the war, warning the West that “it’s not a bluff” that Russia would use all the means at its disposal to protect its territory.

Officials said the total number of reservists drafted in the partial mobilization is 300,000.

The Russian leader’s televised address to the nation comes a day after the announcement of the referendum move.

The Kremlin-backed efforts to swallow up four regions could set the stage for Moscow to escalate the war following Ukrainian successes.

Putin accused the West in engaging in “nuclear blackmail” and noted “statements of some high-ranking representatives of the leading NATO states about the possibility of using nuclear weapons of mass destruction against Russia.”

Shortly after Putin’s announcement, flights out of the country rapidly filled up, and more than 1,000 people were arrested at rare anti-war demonstrations across the country.

A stream of Russians flocking to Istanbul expressed personal relief but concern for the safety of loved ones after the Kremlin announced the partial mobilization.

The price of some tickets from Moscow shot up 10-fold after Putin announced Russia’s first call-up of fighting-age men since World War II.

Officials noted that some Russian airline companies have banned ticket sales to men aged 18-65, who are eligible for military service.

Tour operator company officials said a seat on the last plane departing from Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport to the southern province of Antalya on Sept. 23, was sold for $11,000 (650,000 rubles).