FPRI BMB Ukraine: 2.5mn refugees have fled the country as fighting escalates

FPRI BMB Ukraine: 2.5mn refugees have fled the country as fighting escalates
Some 2.5mn civilians have fled Ukraine as fighting escalates and the death toll mounts sharply. / wiki
By FPRI BMB Ukraine March 14, 2022

Russia’s war in Ukraine continues into its third week. As Russian bombardments escalate in Ukrainian cities, citizens have been forced to flee. The United Nations estimates 2.5mn refugees have left Ukraine since the war began, and another 2mn have fled their homes but stayed in the country.  

Widespread civilian casualties have been reported in the besieged southern city of Mariupol, where officials say more than 1,500 people have been killed. There is no electricity in the city, and there are critical shortages of food, water, and medicine. A six-year-old girl died of dehydration after being trapped under the rubble of her bombed home.  

Reports of a Russian airstrike on a maternity hospital in Mariupol have shocked the international community. Three people were killed, including a child, and an additional 17 were injured, according to local authorities.  

“Mariupol was surrounded, blocked, is being exhausted, tortured,” Ukrainian President Zelenskiy said in a video message asking for help from the West.  

A ceasefire aimed at allowing citizens to evacuate from Mariupol was short-lived when Russia was accused of shelling the agreed-upon humanitarian corridor.  

Similar stories of attacks targeting civilians have also been reported in other Ukrainian cities.  

Zelenskiy claims that about 1,300 Ukrainian troops have been killed so far in the invasion, while he says Russian forces have lost “around 12,000 men.”  These numbers are almost certainly exaggerated in both directions.  

Diplomatic efforts have thus far not been successful at resolving the conflict. Last week, Zelenskiy said he was ready to compromise on the status of Crimea and the Donbas region, although a Ukrainian aide later stated that Ukraine would not cede “a single inch” of territory.  

Three-way talks between the Foreign Ministers of Russia, Ukraine and Turkey in the Turkish city of Antalya failed to reach an agreement on humanitarian issues on March 10. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said “no progress” had been made toward a ceasefire at the meetings.  

Ukrainian and Russian delegations have also been meeting for negotiations in Belarus.  

Ukraine accused Russia of planning a fake “referendum” in the Ukrainian city of Kherson. Russian forces seized the city on March 3 after a three-day siege, and are now planning to stage a referendum to pretend there is popular support for a “people's republic” in Kherson, according to Ukrainian officials.  


This article originally appeared in FPRI's BMB Ukraine newsletter. Click here to learn more about BMB Ukraine and subscribe to the newsletter.