The Polish-Ukrainian border is calm, despite growing fears

MEDICAL – When the tension increases East of Ukraine and Western leaders are issuing serious warnings that a wider war may come, and peace will be maintained along Ukraine’s western border with Poland, which is in the European Union.

The sports center, painted with Olympic rings in a small Polish community right on the border, is ready to accept Ukrainian refugees. So far, the center in Medicine is empty. At the nearest border crossing there are no signs of Ukrainians fleeing.

Many Ukrainians do just the opposite: crossing the border with Ukraine after work or shopping in Poland, some demonstratively promise to defend their country in case major Russian invasion.

“Russia expected everyone to panic and flee to Europe just to buy buckwheat and pasta, food, but we all bought machine guns, weapons and ammunition,” said 29-year-old Vladimir Halyk. – Nobody is afraid, nobody will give up. homes, no one will run away. “

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Galyk and his friend Vladimir Yermakov called themselves veterans of the Russian-backed war against separatists that began in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Yermakov, 34, said he was ready to take up arms again if Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion.

“Putin is an aggressor and does not allow anyone to live a normal life,” he said. “They want to take our territory, and it is true.”

Russia has denied plans to invade Ukraine, but Western officials have said about 150,000 troops and equipment surrounding the country on three sides could attack at any moment.

Residents of Moscow, which was controlled by Moscow during the Cold War, are anxiously watching the news about the build-up of the Russian army. Last year, the Polish government got involved in a migration dispute with another eastern neighbor, Russia’s ally Belarus.

Poland and the European Union have accused Belarus of helping people in the Middle East cross the border into Poland. The Polish government called the migration part of a hybrid war effort aimed at wider destabilization of Central Europe and the EU.

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Mariusz Humenny, chairman of the city council in Medicine, said about thousands additional U.S. troops who have arrived in the area, help maintain a sense of security.

“It calms the mood,” he said.

In recent weeks, the United States has sent nearly 5,000 more troops to Poland. They come in addition to the 4,000 rotating troops that the U.S. began sending after Russia’s actions against Ukraine in 2014. The task of American soldiers is to reassure Poland, a NATO ally, and to be there to help evacuate US citizens or Ukrainians if necessary.

Locals are ready to help Ukrainians if tensions with Russia escalate into a wider conflict, Humenny said. But he says people are also concerned that large numbers of newcomers could overcrowd the city or that a protracted war in Ukraine could cause more instability.

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“There is no panic. You don’t see how the residents are trying to somehow protect themselves. But one thing remains in mind: what will happen when the wave of refugees from Ukraine begins? This is what (citizens) are most afraid of, “Humeni told the Associated Press on Saturday.

Poland is one of the easternmost members of NATO and the EU. Many Poles believe that membership in these organizations provides good protection from Russia, as Putin seeks to restore Russian power in the region, which he believes should return to Moscow’s sphere of influence.

Warsaw has long sought to support democratic reforms and greater integration with the West in Ukraine in an effort to secure a buffer zone between Poland and Russia.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said this week that “a free and sovereign Ukraine” is a matter of national interest for Poland. In addition to preparing a plan to help any Ukrainians who may flee, Poland is also sending defensive weapons to the country in the southeast, bordering the central and southeast.

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At an international security conference in Munich, Germany, Morawiecki said on Saturday that Poland plans to send more weapons to Ukraine. He said he believed that Western countries had long ignored Russia’s attempts to regain power in the region, but were finally aware of the risk to the whole of Europe.

Galyk, a Ukrainian who said he bought weapons in Poland on Saturday, had his own warning for Europe before going home on Saturday.

“Remember, when the last Ukrainian soldier dies, it will be your turn,” he said. will not allow to live in peace “.

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Follow the AP’s coverage of tensions between Russia and Ukraine on /hub/russia-ukraine

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