It is not known if or when theUkrainians who fled Russia will return home

No longer a home for Ukrainians in Russia: Why Ukrainians are going to Russia for the past 40 years, and how Putin and the Kremlin are trying to save Ukraine from Nazis

In the absence of a reliable evacuation corridor to Ukrainian-held territory, going to Russia was the only option for many people in Mariupol at that time. Natalia says she was not forced to leave.

From there, she and many other Ukrainians were encouraged by Russian authorities to take a 4,000-mile train journey east to the very edge of Siberia, to a coastal town called Nakhodka on the Sea of Japan, a stone’s throw from North Korea. It is closer to Alaska than to the front lines.

The United Nations estimates more than 2.8 million Ukrainians have taken refuge in Russia over the past year. Many people with limited funds have traveled through Russia to other countries in Europe and even made their way back to Ukraine.

No longer a home: Russia has tried several experiments to attract people to its resource-rich far east, including from ex-Soviet states. Now, state programs are being repurposed to accommodate fleeing Ukrainians. Those who agree to go to Russia’s far east are promised a cash payment, housing assistance, Russian citizenship and potentially even free land.

Some of them offered pro-Russian views and others didn’t answer questions about the war. No one directly criticized Moscow, but it was not clear how freely people could speak.

Kyiv, he says, must make it crystal clear that Ukrainians citizens who ended up in Russia can come home, otherwise, many likely won’t. The only thing that serves Russia is that.

He said that there are not enough citizens in some parts of the country. A propaganda benefit is positioning these people as possibly willingly seeking citizenship in Russia, which meshes with the narrative that Putin and the Kremlin have for the past 40 years. [are pushing]… trying to rebrand the war as saving Ukrainians from purported Nazis.”

The cost of living in Primorskiy Krai, whose main city is Vladivostok, is the 11th-highest in Russia, more expensive even than Moscow and St. Petersburg regions, according to official figures. This is due to the fact that new home-building lags behind the national average.

Why do Ukrainians in Ukraine decide to leave the country and return to the States? A Human Rights Report by Mariupol Oksana

Natalia says that Russian authorities took her passport and replaced it with a Russian one. Everyone has a right to leave any country according to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Natalia seemed content to make the relocation work for her family for a long time. She must reside there for at least three years, or she’ll have to repay any benefits her family has received.

The people who have signed on are basically indentured servants, according to Raymond. They are in a vulnerable position because of their contract being for three years. It’s critical to recall that their core rights under international law mean “they have a right to return, and they have a right to return safely,” regardless of any agreement, he said.

“At this point, the absence of clarity is the biggest problem” when it comes to Ukrainians in Russia, and whether they are free to return home, Raymond said.

Those who publicly deny the occupation, assist the Russian military and even speak out against it are considered to be traitors and liable for criminal penalties.

Oksana, another of the Ukrainians in Nakhodka who says she now has both Ukrainian and Russian passports, says she would like to return to Mariupol to visit, but only if it’s part of Russia.

“Somehow things are better in Russia – quieter, whereas it is a total mess in Ukraine. She told CNN she was for peace around the globe, and that it was unclear what the government was doing.

She wrote “We will see” after three years. It depends on where you work and what you do. So far, it’s not very easy.”

Raymond suspects that many of those who ended up in Russia’s far east are less affluent, and therefore less likely to take the long, expensive trip back to Ukraine should they want to go. War after war, the same pattern can be seen – those with the least money have the fewest options, he says.

Oksana said that Russia was not a part of her plan even as she took shelter in a squalid basement shelter in Mariupol.

Oksana says the volunteers have been helpful and that although some locals have suggested she “go back,” others have encouraged her to stay – which, for now, is what she intends to do.

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