Nearly 250 were aboard, among them 76 minors ranging from newborns to teenagers, and all promised secure accommodation in temporary refugee centers as they plan new lives in a new country.
For most of those arriving in this Urals city plan no return home.“We hope the Urals will become a new home for us,” said Roman Sheremet, arrived from the southeast Ukrainian town of Horlivka. He had been forced to flee under cover of night. And like many others, no place awaits where he came from - homes reduced to rubble.
“They fired Grad rockets at us. They wanted to destroy us,” said Natalya Zobina, also from Horlivka, adding that bombs had practically wiped the town from the map. Locals ran as Kiev forces mobilised, she said.
Amid the guns and Grad-fire, Donetsk and Luhansk region separatist militia seek safe corridors for all wishing to leave Ukraine for Russian safety. “They're helping us ordinary people to cross the border,” Roman Sheremet said.
“People are leaving for Russia in masses. Kilometer-long car queues are lining up at the Ukraine-Russia border. Naturally, it makes my heart bleed to see what’s happening,” he added.
Jobs in local industry, public sector organizations and at cultural venues await those displaced to the Urals and Tyumen.
“We take account of the interests of everyone seeking employment,” Tatyana Merzlyakova, human rights ombudsman for the Urals Svedlovsk region, told ITAR-TASS on Wednesday.
“People will have four meals a day and we'll help them find a job,” added Andrei Zalensky, head of Svedlovsk region emergencies ministry, already charged with the needs of more than 300 Ukrainian refugees.
Another 5,000 are expected to arrive from the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics by the year-end. More than 2,500 otherwise homeless are sheltered in Siberia's Tyumen.
Russia's Federal Migration Service says displaced persons from Ukraine now in Russia number almost two million.