For Ukrainian exiles, EU, ‘that’s fine’, but ‘letting Russia do’

Written by Julia Pascual

Posted today at 10:55AM, updated at 10:58AM.

The European Union has become for them a physical experience. that exile. Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 4.2 million Ukrainians have fled their country. For a short while they think. Invariably, some know. Member states have decided to grant them temporary protection.

In Paris, next to the Gare de Lyon, a gymnasium has been converted by the Aurore association into a sanctuary of about fifty places. Ukrainians move there for a few hours or overnight, before getting on the train, often to Italy or Portugal. We asked them, a few days before the first round of the presidential election, what they envisioned as a Europe that would welcome them. It softened the positions of the most extreme candidates, as if the protectionist EU had taken credit for the war on its cusp.

Jana Kazakova, 39, and her dog Lola at a gymnasium in the 12th arrondissement in Paris, run by the Aurora Association, which welcomes transiting Ukrainian refugees, on April 5, 2022.

This is the first time that Jana Kazakova, 39, has been in the European Union. “When I went on vacation, I chose the all-inclusive stay in the sun, in Egypt, Turkey or Dubai”, Says the beauty salon manager, who left Rivne, in northwestern Ukraine, with her mother and 12-year-old daughter a week ago. They intend to reach Albufeira, in the far south of Portugal, where Jana’s sister-in-law took refuge with her children and was already promised a job. This was not how Jana had imagined surveying the continent, but what she discovered there, in Budapest, Vienna, Munich or Paris, corresponded to the idea she had of it: “Everything is so beautiful and so expensive. »

“Europe should have closed the sky”

Jana speaks Russian but sympathizes more with the West. “We have never had any hatred towards the Russian people, but outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg there is much poverty”. Jana has a refugee cousin in London, sister-in-law who was founded in the United States and has always thought about sending her daughter to study in Europe. Moreover, for her to learn English, she enrolled her in a private school in Ukraine.

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When asked what she thought of the European Union’s involvement in the war, Jana broke down. What happens in his country is a matter‘annihilation of the nation’as you say. I don’t understand how Great Europe could not stop this and let Russia do it. » She ended up believing that the member states had “Honestly afraid of Putin, of nuclear war and of gas deprivation”. althoughHelp from Europe [soit] leaked”In terms of arms supplies and humanitarian support, Jana is disappointed.

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