Ukrainians are fleeing their nation with freeways and country roads across the nation backed up for hundreds of miles. Video of the capitol of Kyiv shows most city streets filled with cars, buses, and trucks filled with families as smoke from Russian bombs rises in the distance.
Many are attempting to flee to Poland, a NATO member where most Western nations have relocated their Ukrainian embassies. Historians are comparing the Russian invasion to that of Nazi Germany invading Poland at the start of World War II.
Overnight, the first lines of private vehicles reached the Medyka crossing, carrying luggage and accompanied by children. Many of those staying behind are arming themselves for a guerilla war after the Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill Wednesday allowing citizens to carry firearms. The Ukrainian military is also making weapons available to the public.
Alexander Bazhanov fled his home in eastern Ukraine with his wife and young child, taking only what they could carry and walking the final part of their journey into Poland.
The 34-year-old technical manager from Mariupol, 70 miles from Donetsk, decided to cross into Poland when he learned the war had started from a colleague. He spoke to Reuters.
“I don’t have any feelings other than that I am very scared,” Bazhanov said at the pedestrian border crossing, about 400 km from Warsaw. “I will visit my father in Spain but I don’t have any money and I don’t know how I will do that.”
Russian forces invaded Ukraine by land, air and sea on Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized what he called a special military operation in the east. Putin implied that if the West responded and attempted to help Ukraine, he would use all “means” necessary. Western governments took that to mean Putin was threatening the use of nuclear weapons.
Stocks around the world, including the New York Stock Exchange, plummeted Thursday as Europe’s first war in 75 years got underway. Russian stocks also plummeted on Thursday and the country’s currency sank against the dollar to its lowest level on record, prompting Russia’s central bank to announce emergency support measures, as news of the long-anticipated Russian military action against Ukraine hit headlines.
It is believed that average Russians are against the actions of Putin which may be causing a run on Russia’s already shaky banking system.
In a televised address, Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine that he claimed was meant to protect civilians and demilitarize Ukraine, but which Western leaders denounced as a baseless act of aggression.
President Joe Biden late Wednesday issued a statement saying that Putin “has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering.”
“The prayers of the entire world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces,” Biden said.
Biden has been criticized by pro-democracy groups around the world for inaction while Europe’s largest democracy is invaded. Many expect Ukrainian leaders to be assassinated or “disappeared” once Russia enters the Ukrainian capital.
Video has emerged on social media of Russian forces firing missiles at several Ukrainian cities, landing troops on its south coast, and tanks and other military vehicles rolling into Ukraine from Russia-aligned Belarus. Russian forces are currently invading the country from four directions, including Moldova on the eastern border.
The Russian Defense Ministry said it had struck Ukrainian military assets with precision strikes and wasn’t targeting populated areas, claiming that “there is no threat to civilian population.”
President Biden, and other world leaders, are expected to make a joint statement Thursday.
The invasion, and resulting harm to financial markets and oil supplies will likely cause gas to rise to $5 per gallon across the U.S. One reason is that after Biden began shutting down North American sources for oil, it also began reimporting oil from Russia. The Trump administration had ended American reliance on Russian and Middle Eastern oil and, for the first time in many decades, made the United States energy independent. That self-reliance was ended under the Biden administration.