MOSCOW, June 18. /ITAR-TASS/. More than 13,500 registered refugees from Ukraine’s embattled southeastern regions are currently in Russia, including some 6,200 children, a Russian law enforcement source said Wednesday.
The refugees are in the border regions of Russia’s Central and Southern federal districts, as well as in Crimea and the federal city of Sevastopol.
The overall number of refugees from Ukraine in Russia stands at tens of thousands of people, but only some of them officially apply for the refugee status.
Over 200 temporary accommodation centers for Ukrainian refugees have currently been organized in Russian regions bordering on Ukraine, Russian Emergencies Minister Puchkov told Itar-Tass. The centers provide refugees with food round the clock and render them medical assistance, as well as provide migration-related services.
The flow of refugees to Russia will grow should Ukraine introduce martial law in the eastern Donetsk and Lugansk regions. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told journalists on Wednesday that such plans by Kiev will allow the Ukrainian authorities to stake on brutal force in crushing protests.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 3 pledged to instruct his subordinates to help refugees from Ukraine’s southeastern regions.
Fierce clashes have been underway between the Ukrainian military and militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which refused to recognize the authorities who had been propelled to power amid riots during a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
Kiev is conducting a punitive operation against federalization supporters in Ukraine's East. The operation involves armored vehicles, heavy artillery and attack aviation. It has already claimed hundreds of lives, including civilian, and left some buildings destroyed and damaged.
The Donetsk and Lugansk regions, which border on Russia, held referendums on May 11, in which most voters supported independence from Ukraine. Their independence has not been officially recognized.
Russia has repeatedly called on Kiev to end the punitive operation and engage in dialogue with Ukraine’s mainly Russian-speaking Southeast. The operation, however, continues under newly elected President Pyotr Poroshenko, who won the May 25 early presidential elections and took office on June 7.