KIEV, April 23. /TASS/. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavel Klimkin has stated that every 12th Ukrainian is currently living in Russia and that this situation should be changed.
"Russia is at war with us; however, 3 million Ukrainians live in Russia. That is, almost every 12th Ukrainian is in Russia now," Klimkin said during a conversation with members of the Ukrainian expatriate community in Toronto, Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform reported. "They say, ‘We’ve earned money in this way all our lives,’ and they should be understood," Klimkin said.
Still, Kiev is taking measures to change this situation, he said. "It cannot continue forever. There are certain ideas now, and we are working on them so that 3 million Ukrainians did not stay in Russia on a permanent basis, as this is a very sad situation for me," the minister said.
In particular, Klimkin hopes that closer relations between Ukraine and the EU will help redistribute Ukrainian labor migrants abroad. "Europe became open, and we see that some are already moving to the EU from Russia or returning to Ukraine. Still, it takes much time," Klimkin concluded.
Ukraine has seen an uptick in labor migration since the February 2014 coup d’etat. Most often Ukrainians go to Russia and Poland for permanent or seasonal employment. According to latest reports, up to 2 million Ukrainians are staying in Poland.
Ukraine’s authorities have been actively discussing the introduction of visa-free regime with Russia, but this initiative remains unrealized due to the threat of Moscow’s retaliatory measures that would chiefly affect Ukrainian migrants.