Moldovan President Maia Sandu announced Thursday that the country will be closing its airspaces and asked the government to declare a state of emergency following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The country is preparing to harbor “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian refugees as a result of the recent attacks.
Within hours of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s declaration of war against Ukraine, border crossings ranging about 800 miles between Moldova and Ukraine became congested. The UN Refugee Agency released a statement on Thursday warning that up to five million individuals could be displaced due to the invasion. As this new refugee crisis looms, Ukraine’s other neighbors such as Poland and Romania have begun preparing for this massive influx. Several other nearby nations including Latvia, Hungary, Lithuania and Estonia have promised to take in people when necessary.
Sandu has asked parliament to be on alert, with the Emergency Situations Commission summoned to provide relief and aid in all humanitarian efforts. Police patrols has been activated in an attempt to manage the congregation near the borders, while Sandu urged everyone to return to their homes for the time being and Moldovan citizens in Ukraine to return to the country immediately. Along with this message, Sandu pleaded with the people to be aware of false information and demanded the Civil Aviation Authority to redirect flights to nearby airports.
Sandu called Russia’s attack a “flagrant violation of international norms.” The US State Department released a travel advisory urging all US citizens to avoid traveling to Moldova and Ukraine, telling American citizens in many nearby countries to come home as soon as possible. The European Council on Foreign Relations says that Russia is still showing every sign of hostility towards Moldova’s reformist government.
Putin declared war on Ukraine in the morning hours of Thursday, launching ground attacks and airstrikes into the country. Up to 40 people have already been pronounced dead. Putin claims that Moscow is undertaking a “special military operation” to demilitarize and “denazify” the country in order to defend itself. As it stands now, nearly 2,000 Ukrainian citizens have crossed over into Moldova. Thousands more are expected in the coming hours.