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Ukraine men ordered to stay and fight Russia as others flee


Fighting-age Ukrainian men have been ordered to stay behind as tens of thousands of civilians flee the country amid intensified fighting.

Ukraine announced late Thursday that men between the ages of 18 and 60 were forbidden from leaving the nation, which has been under martial law since the start of the Russian invasion.

Some of the men were separated from their wives and children as they tried to board trains to flee, while others were stopped at the border.

The Ukrainian authorities “were nice, not rude, but they said that men have a duty to defend the country,” said Erzsebet Kovacs, 50, at a train station.

The United Nations’ refugee agency said Friday that more than 50,000 civilians had fled Ukraine since Wednesday, with many more making their way to the borders.

People look on at the Polish border office as they wait for friends and family, who are fleeing the violence in Ukraine
People look on at the Polish border as they wait for friends and family who are fleeing violence in Ukraine.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
A woman who claims to be a US citizen cries after crossing the border and fleeing from Ukraine.
A woman who claims to be a US citizen cries after crossing the border to flee from Ukraine.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
A family crosses the border into Poland, fleeing from the violence in Ukraine.
A family crosses the border into Poland.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
Ukraine War map
New York Post composite

The intense fighting continued Friday as Ukrainian troops took up defensive positions in the capital of Kyiv, where Russian bombardment carried on.

Ukrainians trying to flee the capital for the western city of Lviv nearly caused a stampede at Kyiv’s central rail station, prompting guards to reportedly fire warning shots into the air.


Get the latest updates in the Russia-Ukraine conflict with the Post’s live coverage.


Others tried to leave by car, causing a second day of stop-and-go traffic.

Filippo Grandi, the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a tweet that the majority of those fleeing are crossing over into neighboring Poland and Moldova.

“Heartfelt thanks to the governments and people of countries keeping their borders open and welcoming refugees,” he said.

A woman with her daughter and mother exits the border crossing after fleeing violence in Ukraine.
A woman, her daughter and mother cross into Poland.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
A husband and wife are reunited after traveling separately through the border crossing while fleeing the violence in Ukraine.
A husband and wife reunite after traveling separately to the border crossing.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS

Vilma Sugar, 68, of Uzhhorod in western Ukraine spoke to The Associated Press on Friday from Zahony, Hungary, just across the border.

She said her 47-year-old son had been stopped as they tried to leave Ukraine.

“I’m shaking, I can’t calm down,” she said. “We crossed the border, but they just didn’t let him come with us. We are trying to keep in touch with him on the phone, but it’s hard because the line is bad.”

Kovacs said, “We women boarded the train, but the men were ordered to step to the side.”

Children wait on a bus after fleeing Ukraine into Poland with their mother.
Children wait on a bus after fleeing Ukraine into Poland.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
A woman sits with her daughter after crossing the border into Poland.
A woman sits with her daughter after crossing the border into Poland.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS
A woman and her three children exit the border crossing.
Ukrainian men have reportedly been stopped at the border crossing.
Bryan Woolston/REUTERS

Daria from Kyiv, who would only give her first name, told reporters in Przemyśl, Poland, that she witnessed similar restrictions.

“Even if the man was traveling with his own child, he couldn’t cross the border, even with a kid,” she said.

Joung-ah Ghedini-Williams, spokeswoman for the UN refugee agency, said in a videotaped statement, “Obviously, UNHCR is doing its utmost to try to access and provide whatever humanitarian assistance and protection will be needed.

“And we are staying put. We are in Ukraine with over 115 staff, we will bring reinforcements as is needed, and we have a similar number in the surrounding countries,” she said.

With Post wires



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