Ukrainians fled to Poland, leaving behind their belongings and dogs.
Two women react after crossing the Polish border, as they flee violence in Ukraine, in Medyka, Poland, February 24, 2022. REUTERS/Bryan Woolston
(Reuters) - MEDYKA, Poland, Feb 24 - Hundreds of Ukrainians escaping a Russian invasion began arriving in Poland on Thursday, some carrying baggage and accompanied by children at the normally quiet Medyka border.
Officials in European Union nations bordering Ukraine, including as Romania and Slovakia, stated there was no large influx of refugees at the moment, although local media and observers reported increased foot traffic.
Alexander Bazhanov and his wife and little child escaped their home in eastern Ukraine, carrying only what they could carry and walking the final leg of their trek into Poland.
When a colleague informed him that the fighting had begun, the 34-year-old technical manager from Mariupol, 113 kilometers (70 miles) from Donetsk, decided to travel into Poland.
I have no sentiments other than fear, Bazhanov said at a pedestrian border crossing roughly 400 kilometers from Warsaw. I'm going to see my father in Spain, but I don't have any money and have no idea how I'll get there.
On Thursday, Russian forces entered Ukraine by land, air, and sea, following President Vladimir Putin's approval of a special military operation in the east.
Central European countries that share a border with Ukraine have been preparing for weeks for an expected influx of refugees seeking asylum in the European Union.
Russia has urged that NATO's eastward expansion be halted, and Putin has reiterated that Ukrainian participation in the US-led military alliance is unacceptably risky.
Putin said he authorized military action because Russia had no choice but to defend itself against challenges posed by modern Ukraine, a democratic state with a population of 44 million people.
Olga Pavlusik and her boyfriend Bohdan Begey rushed to the border after hearing about the invasion, leaving their dog at home in their town in western Ukraine. They have no idea where they're going. She told Reuters that somewhere safe would suffice.