Latest Russia-Ukraine War News: Live Updates

Recognition…Nicole Tung for the New York Times
Recognition…David Guttenfelder for the New York Times
Recognition…Emile Ducke for the New York Times

Russia’s eight-month war in Ukraine has already unleashed the largest and fastest migrant crisis in decades. But the United Nations and humanitarian organizations warn that renewed fighting in the east and south, Moscow’s increased attacks on power plants and other infrastructure, the approaching winter and fears of a nuclear attack could drive even more Ukrainians to flee in the coming months.

According to the United Nations, more than 14 million people have fled their homes since the Russian invasion in February, and 7.8 million have sought refuge outside of Ukraine. More than six million people have been displaced inside Ukraine to areas further removed from fighting but increasingly threatened by Russian airstrikes that have cut electricity and water supplies and are fueling new hardship as temperatures drop.

Behind the raw numbers lies a series of agonizing decisions individuals and families have made about school, work, and caring for family members who are too old or infirm to leave their homes.

Although the immediate threat of a Russian takeover of the capital Kyiv and the country’s second largest city, Kharkiv, has passed and many people have returned to their homes there, the number of displaced people continues to rise, albeit at a slower pace. According to the United Nations, around 10.5 million people were displaced in the first month of the war alone. But Russia’s barrage of missile and drone strikes across the country in recent weeks has made it clear that nowhere in Ukraine is truly safe.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the figure of 14 million people displaced from their homes represents “the fastest and largest forced displacement in decades”. The country’s pre-war population was approximately 44 million.

“Humanitarian organizations have dramatically scaled up their response, but much more needs to be done, starting with an end to this senseless war,” Mr. Grandi said.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing the opposite,” he added. “And the strike-induced destruction of civilian infrastructure that’s happening right now makes humanitarian aid seem like a drop in the bucket.”

A senior Ukrainian government official warned last week that people should not return to their homes. Russian strikes have destroyed around 40 percent of the country’s critical energy infrastructure in recent weeks, according to Ukrainian officials. The national power grid was strained to the breaking point, and officials had to implement widespread rationing to keep it from collapsing.

Before dawn on Thursday, Russian missiles did more damage, hitting power and water supply infrastructure facilities in the southern city of Kryvyi Rih, local officials said.

Warnings that Russia may resort to unconventional means, including the use of tactical nuclear weapons, have heightened unease. This week officials in the Kyiv region said they were preparing more than 400 nuclear shelters in case of a nuclear attack.

But not everyone has the opportunity to go. In the areas occupied by Russian forces in the east and south of the country, almost all routes to Ukrainian-controlled areas are closed.

In the southern Zaporizhia region, there is a single designated crossing point where people from all four regions of Ukraine partially occupied by Russian forces can cross the front line. For months, thousands were able to flee occupied territories by this route.

But after Moscow announced the illegal annexation of the occupied territories in September, the Russians let fewer people through the maze of checkpoints. Russian forces have also stepped up efforts to forcibly relocate civilians in southern Ukraine while fortifying defense positions and moving soldiers to abandoned homes, according to Ukrainian officials and residents.

Hans Kluge, the World Health Organization’s regional director for Europe, recently warned that “the winter challenges and recent escalation of fighting could contribute to significant internal displacement, with an estimated 2 to 3 million people in Ukraine itself and another region exodus from.” refugees to the surrounding countries.”

Poland has taken in more refugees than any other country, with nearly 1.5 million Ukrainians registered as refugees, according to the UN. More than 450,000 are registered in the Czech Republic, and smaller numbers have gone to other European countries, including Bulgaria, Slovakia, Romania and Hungary.

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