A Maldivian student residing in Ukraine stated that locals are preparing to return amidst fears of a war breaking out between Ukraine and Russia.
While a total of 50 Maldivians is currently living in Ukraine, 29 of them are residing in an area called Kharkiv, which is the closest main city to the Russian border. Hence, any attack or invasion affecting them was highly probable.
Speaking to Sun, a medical student in Ukraine said that the fear of a war breaking out was widespread within Kharkiv, and the Maldivian students in the city want to return.
The student added that they were waiting on their university to make a decision regarding online classes.
“The university will make a decision today on whether they are going to teach online. If they decide to teach online, all the students are ready to go to Male’.”
It was also noted by the student that in the current situation, it was very likely that the university will make the decision to shift to online classes.
Since the air travel will shut down as soon as attacks begin, students are eager to fly back to Maldives at the earliest possible, said the student.
“Even now if attacks begin, air travel will stop. Then the Foreign Ministry will have to attend.”
In addition to this, the student revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not given any special instructions later on.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry had stated that they were closely monitoring the statuses of Maldivians currently residing in Ukraine and has also advised against travelling to Ukraine during this period of instability.
In a statement released on February 15, Maldivian students residing at Kharkiv stressed their proximity to the border and noted that none of the government authorities had contacted them regarding the matter. Subsequently, the students said that they had sought the contacts of the nearest Maldivian diplomatic mission to Ukraine – being the Embassy of Maldives in Germany – on their own.
The students also expressed disappointment over government officials making false statements with regard to how they have been handling the situation and having to chase after authorities to help evacuate from while they are so less in number – whereas countries that have more than 4000 students in Ukraine are evacuating them without them having asked for help.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia escalated when Ukraine initiated talks to join North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
In mid-December 2021, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a set of demands which included a ban on Ukraine entering NATO and a reduction of NATO troops and military equipment in Eastern Europe in order for its military forces to be withdrawn.
These demands were rejected by the United States and other allies of NATO, and also warned that if Ukraine is invaded, there will be retaliation through means such as economic sanctions, and deploying assistance including small arms and other defensive weaponry.
The situation continues to escalate, and along with it, the fear of war. Russia has stationed over 100,000 military personnel outside the borders of Ukraine as of the present.
Many countries have urged their nationals residing in Ukraine to leave the country, including the United States. Embassy of United States in Ukraine has also been shut down.