The crisis between Russia and Ukraine is not ending soon. It is noteworthy to mention that both countries have a history. Ukraine is not only the second-largest country by area in Europe after Russia, which it borders to the east and north-east but was once directly under the laws and regulations of Russia.
But things changed on 24 August 1991 as Ukraine officially declared itself an independent country when the communist Supreme Soviet (parliament) of Ukraine proclaimed that Ukraine would no longer follow the laws of USSR and only the laws of the Ukrainian SSR, de facto declaring Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union.
Yet Majority of Russia elites including Putin still claim that Russians and Ukrainians are “one people”, part of the “Russian civilisation” that also includes neighbouring Belarus. They also alleged that some parts of Ukraine dominated by Russia people are experiencing abuse and severe intimidation from Kyiv. The Ukrainians rejected Putin’s claims and refuted allegations levelled against them.
WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that Ukraine went through two revolutions in 2005 and 2014, both times rejecting Russia’s supremacy and seeking a path to join the European Union and NATO. This new development angered Putin who is particularly enraged by the prospect of NATO bases next to his borders. According to Putin, Ukraine joining the US-led transatlantic alliance would mark the crossing of a red line.
Despite several denials of invasion, Russian President Vladimir Putin finally launched a “special military operation” in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region on the 24th February, 2022. Adviser to Ukraine’s presidentx Oleksii Arestovich also disclosed that atleast 40 people have been killed so far in the Russian attack on tbe country.
As the ongoing crisis between the two countries persist, the safety and security of foreigners especially Nigerians is a necessity. The Nigerian government is planning evacuation of stranded Nigerians in Ukraine after Russia invasion immediately airports are opened and the lower chamber of the House of Representatives on Thursday offered to bear the cost.
Till the commencement of evacuation exercise, here are what Nigerians in Ukraine can possibly do to be safe amid Russia invasion:
WITHIN NIGERIA learnt that some parts of Ukraine are not under attack. The ‘red spots’ are areas dominated by people allegedly to have suffered extreme abuse, intimidation and witnessed genocide. The major attacks are happenings in the ‘red spots’. It will be a good move if Nigerians in the ‘red spots’ can temporarily relocate to other spots if they can till the commencement of evacuation by the Nigerian government.
Communication or access to positive and meaningful engagement is simply the key in times of war. It does not only update one’s knowledge about the war but also provides necessary details to follow. WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that Nigeria has an embassy in Ukraine. It is also advisable that Nigerians in Ukraine enhance their communication with embassy for advisory and direction. Nigerians should also keep in touch with NGOs especially government channels for advisory.
WITHIN NIGERIA gathered that there are red and blue spots in Ukraine. Red spot means areas prone to attacks while blue spot means areas not prone to attacks. In times of crisis, there would be targeted cities like capital which are likely prone to attack. It is advisable for Nigerians in Ukraine to stay away from the targeted cities or restrict their movements in these targeted cities to avoid being casualties of war.
When two countries fight, the borders are known to be ‘dead zones’. There is always a struggle for power between the attackers and defenders at the border. Nigerians in Ukraine are also advised to stay away from borders or move away from buildings or communities that are closer to borders because they are also prone to attacks.
Communication is active interaction while information is an isolated action. As Nigerians in Ukraine engage embassy, NGOs and government channels for advisory, they must also stay tuned to local and international news to get timely and accurate informations about the crisis. Access to quality and timely information is very essential because it gives people in distress or fear more time to prepare or plan. Striving to get timely information from local or international channels must be considered a priority too.
PLANS AGAINST HUNGER
One of the immediate consequences of war is hunger. The more a war or crisis is prolonged, the less the access to food. There is possibility that the crisis would escalate or become tougher, making it impossible for immediate evacuation to take place. When this happens, surviving will become a top priority and the battle for survival becomes sacrosant. Nigerians in Ukraine are hereby advised to embark on plans against hunger by stocking up foods and other essentials for the unexpected. If possible, work and plan together in their respective zones to make the fight against hunger that would be caused by this crisis a success.
AVOID LARGE GATHERING
One of the deliberate and careful steps every Nigerian in Ukraine must take is to avoid large gathering. Nigerians should avoid protest or any large gathering or group formed for the purpose of this crisis. This does not imply that they should live or relate in isolation. Every large gathering during war is a likely target.
REACTIONS FROM INTERNATIONAL BODIES
Stop ‘what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century’ – UN begs Putin
The UN secretary general has appealed to Russian president, Putin to bring back his troops to Russia and stop “what could be the worst war since the beginning of the century.”
“This is the saddest moment in my tenure as Secretary General of the United Nations,” Guterres began.
Guterres warned Putin that Russian military action could not only be “devastating for Ukraine” and “tragic” for Russia “but with an impact we can not even foresee in relation to their consequences for the global economy.”
“In a moment when we are emerging from Covid and so many developing countries absolutely need to have space for the recovery, which would be very, very difficult with the high prices of oil, with the exports of wheat from Ukraine and with rising interest rates caused by instability in international markets,” he added.
“This conflict must stop now.”
“Please stop attacking Ukraine ”
‘United States will continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine’ – Biden
Speaking on Tuesday at a media briefing, Biden said the “United States will continue to provide defensive assistance to Ukraine in the meantime”, adding that the US will also “continue to reinforce and reassure our NATO allies”.
“Today, in response to Russia’s admission that it will not withdraw its forces from Belarus, I have authorised additional movements of US forces and equipment already stationed in Europe to strengthen our Baltic Allies – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania,” he said.
“Let me be clear these are totally defensive moves on our part. We have no intention of fighting Russia. We want to send an unmistakable message that the United States together with our allies will defend every inch of NATO territory and abide by the commitments we made it to NATO.
“This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. So I’m going to begin to impose sanctions in response — far beyond the steps we and our allies and partners implemented in 2014.”
China states position on Russia-Ukraine crisis
Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said on Thursday it opposes any act of inciting war and has taken a responsible attitude from the very beginning of Ukraine and Russia issue to persuade all parties not to escalate tensions and incite war.
Chunying made the remarks at a daily news conference in response to queries on the Ukraine issue.
She said that the United States had sent at least $1.5 billion worth of more than 1,000 tonnes of weapons and ammunition to Ukraine.
“At that time, if all the parties had promoted peace talks, reviewed the historical context of the Ukraine issue, respected, and accommodated each other’s security concerns, and resolved the issue in a reasonable, proper way for a soft landing of the situation, what would be happening now?” she asked.
“The culprit of the tensions should now consider how to put out the fire as soon as possible with concrete actions, instead of blaming others”, she added.
‘Hideous and barbaric’ – UK reacts to attack on Ukraine by Russia
The UK “cannot and will not just look away” at Russia’s “hideous and barbaric” attack on Ukraine, Boris Johnson has said.
The PM said President Vladimir Putin had launched a “vast invasion by land, by sea and by air” without provocation.
He said the UK and allies will launch a “massive package” of sanctions to “hobble” Russia’s economy.
The prime minister will outline the further economic sanctions against Russia in the Commons at 17:00 GMT.
In a pre-recorded TV statement, Mr Johnson stressed that Ukraine was “not some faraway country of which we know little”.
He added: “We have Ukrainian friends in this country, neighbours, co-workers. Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny.”
Mr Johnson said the UK and its allies would agree a “massive package of economic sanctions” in a bid to “hobble” the Russian economy, warning that the West would need to cease its dependence on Russian oil and gas.
“Our mission is clear: diplomatically, politically, economically and eventually militarily, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure,” Mr Johnson said.
Cease military action in Ukraine immediately, NATO tells Russia
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General has asked Russia to cease its military action in Ukraine immediately.
The call was made on Thursday by the NATO secretary general at a press briefing at Brussels, Belgium.
“We call on Russia to immediately cease its military action, withdraw its forces from Ukraine and choose diplomacy,” he said.
He accused Russia of having criminal intentions for invading Ukraine, stating that the invasion was deliberate, cold-blooded and long-planned. He reiterated that “NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and…right to self-defence.”
Describing the attack as “unjustified” and “unprovoked,” Stoltenberg warned Russia against using force to rewrite history.
Measures are ongoing to evacuate Nigerians stranded in Ukraine – FG
The Federal Government has disclosed that measures are ongoing to evacuate citizens stranded in war-hit Ukraine through the Nigerian Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.
This was contained in a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement titled, ‘Public Notice From The Nigerian Embassy In Poland,’ on Saturday.
The statement read, “In light of the happenings in Ukraine, please be advised that all Nigerians crossing over to Poland would have staff of the Nigerian Embassy waiting for them.
“The Federal Government is making necessary arrangements for the evacuation of those stranded in Ukraine through the Embassy in Warsaw, Poland. Please present this as your destination address with the Border Control: 02-953, Kosiarzy 22B, 02-956 Warsaw.”
The statement added that Nigerian Embassy staff, along with volunteers, will be at the Polish-Ukrainian borders with buses and vans to pick up Nigerians from the crossing border points and locations listed in the document below.
Hungary, Romania issuing access visas to Nigerians fleeing Ukraine – FG
The Governments of Hungary and Romania have approved visa free access to all Nigerians fleeing Ukraine, the Federal Government has said.
This is contained in a statement issued by the Nigerian Mission in Hungary.
The federal government that arrangements are underway for transportation of Nigerian nationals to enable them stabilize.
The government advised affected Nigerians to approach the borders with their valid documents and cooperate with immigration officials to ease the process.
“The Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Budapest, Hungary wishes to inform nationals arriving from Ukraine, that the Government of Hungary has enacted Decree 56/2022 (24.II).
“Which permits third country nationals with valid Ukrainian resident permits to enter Hungary on a temporary basis, without a Schengen visa.
“As such, Nigerians arriving at the Hungary-Ukraine border can enter Hungary, either on transit to Nigeria, or temporarily reside in the country.
“Affected Nigerians are thereby advised to send their names, phone numbers, email addresses, and copy of their passports biodata page to the Embassy’s Consular email; firstname.lastname@example.org.
“To enable the facilitation of the aforementioned arrangements. For information to on consular assistance, please contact the following persons who will be on ground to coordinate;
“Mr Stanley Okpara (Consular Officer) – +36308202903 and Mr Ayotunde Adigun +36308639203,” the Hungarian Mission Stated.
Similarly, the Romanian Mission in a statement urged affected Nigerians to contact its consular officer on +40747309174 and Head of Chancery on +40786091964 for assistance.
“The following persons are deployed to the four entry points and may be reached accordingly; Siret, Suceava County- Mr Dayo Adeoye on +407493359685 and Mr Suleiman Ahmed on +40754859685.
“Sighetul Marmatiel, Maramures County, Mr P.O Akanmode +40752482924. At Isaccea, Tulcea County, David Abraham, +40764505900 and at Halmeu, Satu Mare County, Mohammed Liman, +40749828499.
“Affected Nigerian nationals are advised to ensure they arrive at the entry points with valid travel documents and cooperate with Romanian Immigration Officers at the borders,” the Romanian Mission stated.
Buhari laments ill-treatment of Nigerians, other Africans in Ukraine, alleges racism
In the midst of the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, President Muhammadu Buhari has lamented the ill-treatment being meted out to Nigerian nationals, and citizens of other African countries in Ukraine.
Speaking via through his Senior Special Assistant (Media & Publicity), Garba Shehu, in a statement on Sunday, the President said he understands the pain and fear confronting all people who find themselves in the middle of the crisis.
There have been reports, along with videos of Nigerians being turned back at Ukraine’s borders in their attempt to exit the troubled country for neighbouring ones.
The Presidency said it is aware of the situation, in the statement.
It said, “While efforts to begin talks between Russia and Ukraine are underway, paramount on our minds is the safety and human rights of some four thousand Nigerian citizens and many others from friendly African nations today stranded in Ukraine.
“There is a long history dating back to decades of Nigerians and other Africans studying in Ukraine, particularly medicine. The majority of Nigerian citizens in the country today are university-enrolled students.
“From video evidence, first-hand reports, and from those in contact with their wards and/or Nigerian consular officials there have been unfortunate reports of Ukrainian police and security personnel refusing to allow Nigerians to board buses and trains heading towards the Ukraine-Poland border.
“In one video widely circulating on social media, a Nigerian mother with her young baby was filmed being physically forced to give up her seat to another person.
“There are also separate reports of Polish officials simply refusing Nigerian citizens’ entry into Poland from Ukraine.
“One group of Nigerian students having been repeatedly refused entry into Poland have concluded they have no choice but to travel again across Ukraine and attempt to exit the country via the border with Hungary.
“We understand the pain and fear that is confronting all people who find themselves in this terrifying place.
“We also appreciate that those in official positions in security and border management will in most cases be experiencing impossible expectations in a situation they never expected.
“But, for that reason, it is paramount that everyone is treated with dignity and without favour.
“All who flee a conflict situation have the same right to safe passage under UN Convention and the colour of their passport or their skin should make no difference.
“As a nation, we are proud of those educated in Kyiv and Kharkiv and other cities and centres of learning who have returned to Nigeria to perform great service for our nation and our people.
“Without the generosity of spirit of the Ukrainian people that would never have been possible.
“We pray for those directly affected by this conflict.
“Nigeria, with our 200 million people, support all and every diplomatic effort to bring this war to an end.”