A Maltese man living in Ukraine – where fears of a Russian invasion have been escalating – has spoken about how his luggage and documents are ready packed in case war breaks out.
“People here are trying to live their usual life, going to work and children are in school. I am at work right now. The situation has, however, become more tense over the past week,” said the man, who did not wish to be identified and is married to a Ukrainian woman.
Asked why he was staying there and did not return to Malta immediately – as advised by the Maltese government – he said that, while he knew that travel might be more difficult if there is an attack, he would leave the capital of Kyiv, where he lives, by land.
Several countries around the world have asked their citizens to leave Ukraine. Last week, the Maltese Foreign Ministry advised all Maltese nationals in Ukraine to “take the first available flight back to Malta”.
Locals have also been advised to avoid travelling to Ukraine.
The ministry said it is officially informed there is “one Maltese person in Ukraine” but that there are “10 Maltese citizens, most of them Ukrainian women, who were married for a long time to Maltese men but have since separated/divorced and gone back”.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian people living here have expressed concern about their loved ones back home, with many wishing that they could bring them over for a few weeks until the situation settles but this cannot happen since Ukraine is on the COVID-19 Dark Red list of countries.
Travel to Dark Red countries is banned except for exceptional circumstances and only with prior authorisation.
A health spokesperson said that anyone wishing to come to Malta from any Dark Red country can apply and each application will be seen to on its own merit and circumstances.
Over the past few months Moscow had repeatedly denied plans to invade Ukraine but the threat is being taken seriously by the rest of the world because Russia annexed Crimea – then part of Ukraine – in 2014.
Soon after the annexation of Crimea, Moscow began supporting pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s south-eastern provinces of Donetsk and Lugansk. On Monday, Russia recognised both as independent states and sent troops in, saying they would perform “peacekeeping” duties, taking the crisis to a new dangerous level.
Russia’s main demand in this conflict is for Ukraine never to be allowed to join NATO, the transatlantic military alliance.