MOSCOW, July 04, /ITAR-TASS/. Two Russian Emergencies Ministry (EMERCOM) aircraft with 220 Ukrainian refugees on board on Friday arrived at the Domodedovo Airport outside Moscow from Crimea, a former Ukrainian region that recently joined Russia, the ministry reported Friday.
Earlier Friday, the planes, two Ilyushin Il-76 (NATO reporting name: Candid) strategic airlifters, were sent to the Crimean capital Simferopol in order to transfer “over 220 people who were forced to leave the Ukrainian territory,” an EMERCOM spokesman said.
The refugees will subsequently be taken by buses to temporary accommodation centers in the central Russian Tula and Ryazan regions, where they will be supplied with whatever is required and provided with medical, psychological and information support.
A total of 268 temporary accommodation centers in Russian regions currently house more than 18,200 people.
If refugees in the southern Russian Rostov Region and Crimea wish, they are transferred to other Russian regions. Overall, EMERCOM aircraft and vehicle convoys have transported more than 6,100 people.
Ukrainians continue fleeing the war-torn Donetsk and Lugansk regions in eastern Ukraine where the Ukrainian military, units of the “national guard” and the Right Sector ultranationalist movement have been conducting a punitive operation against residents demanding federalization and greater rights for Russian language speakers.
Russian Regional Development Minister Igor Slyunyayev said Monday that the number of Ukrainian refugees arriving in Russia from the embattled Southeast of Ukraine may reach 300,000 by the end of this year.
President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting with Russian ambassadors and permanent representatives on Tuesday that Russia will provide assistance to refugees from Ukraine.
Residents of Ukraine’s southeastern regions, who supported the country’s federalization, were apparently inspired by the example of Crimea, which refused to recognize the authorities imposed in Ukraine during a coup in February and seceded from the country to reunify with Russia in mid-March.
Federalization supporters started massive protests and formed militias in the Southeast. There have been fierce clashes between the militias and Ukrainian troops during Kiev’s punitive operation conducted since mid-April.
The operation, which involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation, has killed hundreds of people, destroyed buildings and forced tens of thousands to flee Ukraine to Russia.
After a brief ceasefire announced by President Pyotr Poroshenko on June 20 and terminated by him on June 30, military attacks of the pro-Kiev forces on the country’s southeastern regions resumed.