Eastern Europe gear for refugees as tensions escalate at Russia-Ukraine border

Eastern European countries are preparing for tens of thousands of refugees to evacuate Ukraine if the conflict with Russia worsens, with some Polish towns now advertising available housing and Romania discussing refugee camps.

On the European Union’s eastern edge, memories of the Iron Curtain and Soviet influence are still very much alive, with people fearful of any instability that could harm their economies and unleash a flood of migration last witnessed in the 1990s with the breakup of the former Yugoslavia.

Russia has over 100,000 troops stationed near Ukraine, and the US has warned that an invasion might start within days. Moscow has denied any such preparations, accusing the West of being “hysterical.”

Regardless, administrations and communities along the Ukrainian border, from north to south, are preparing to accept refugees if necessary.

On Monday, Poland, which is home to between 1 million and 2 million Ukrainians who largely come to work in the country, said it was preparing for the worst-case situation. Marcin Przydacz, the deputy foreign minister, told Catholic network Radio Plus that he was “preparing for huge numbers in order to be better prepared.”

The mayor of Ciechanow, a town in eastern Poland with a population of around 44,000 people, said the town was prepared to house roughly 80 migrants in a hotel within 48 hours for a fee of 140 zlotys per night, including meals.

Krzysztof Kosinski told Reuters, “We have been guaranteed that the public budget will fully cover the costs.”

The northern town of Elblag announced on Sunday that it has 420 spots available. Torun, a city in central Poland, reported it has 96 refugee places. Czestochowa, in the south, claims to have 1,100 parking spaces.

Romania, which shares a lengthy border with Ukraine, completed an action plan on Sunday, according to interior minister Lucian Bode, who spoke to Romanian television station B1.

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