At 4:30 a.m. Ukraine time, on Feb. 24, Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced after the first full day of the attack that at least 137 people had been killed and 316 injured, NBC News reported.
Now thousands of Ukrainians are fleeing the country, but the men are required to stay behind and fight.
Many are fleeing on foot to Poland. There are reports of people walking for hours and hours, suitcases and children in tow, just to get out of the country.
— Loveday Morris (@LovedayM) February 24, 2022
But men between ages 18 and 60 are required to stay in the country. When the attacks began, Zelenskyy declared martial law. Then the Ukraine State Border Guard Service announced that men must stay, CNN reported.
“In particular, it is forbidden for men aged 18-60, Ukraine citizens, to leave the borders of Ukraine,” a statement said. “This regulation will remain in effect for the period of the legal regime of martial law. We ask the citizens to take this information into consideration.”
Manny Marotta, a young independent journalist in Ukraine who walked to Poland, described how he saw men pulled off of busses, stopped at the border and told to go back to Ukraine to fight, the Independent reported.
“It was about 10, 15 kilometers from the border and Ukrainian army soldiers started coming out onto the streets with speakers, announcing ‘no Ukrainian man aged 18 to 60 is allowed to leave the country – you must go east and fight’,” Marotta said.
All over Twitter and social media, heartbreaking videos of men leaving their families and loved ones have been circulating.
Some may have assumed that such tearful scenes had been relegated to the past. Evacuation … fathers and children being separated … husbands hugging their wives goodbye … surely these are just monochrome pictures and films from events like World War II.
But this is Ukraine’s reality now.
The viral videos of these goodbyes truly make it feel that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine has catapulted us back to tragic moments of the past.
One man weeps into his little girl’s pink coat as he sends her away.
It’s Friday; a father tearfully places his daughter on a bus to safety before returning to battle for Ukrainepic.twitter.com/GoqYmMDyjo
— Hy Bender (@hybender) February 25, 2022
Another father says goodbye to his daughter, drawing a heart on her window during the evacuation of Donbas.
There is no stronger image than this. A father says goodbye to his daughter during the evacuation of Donetsk in Donbas, not knowing if he will see her again.
The men are recruited and separated from their families #bbcnews #Ukrainian #Kyiv #Putin #Article 4 #nytimes #Russia pic.twitter.com/admg08OcX7
— .. . (@Georgio_Geo_G) February 24, 2022
At the National Police Headquarters, one man was given two AK-47’s in preparation. He has never fired a gun.
“Do you know how to use that?” the reported asked.
“To tell the truth, I am not good at it, but I understand. I just need to find some quiet place and figure out how it works,” he answered.
Other Ukrainian men who already crossed the border into Poland turned around and went back, even though they knew once back in Ukraine, they would not be allowed to leave.
But they are fighting for their homes and their country, as one man at the Polish border, who was returning to Ukraine though he works in Finland, reminded a reporter.
“I go to home, my family,” he said.
“Are you going back to fight?” the reporter asked.
“Yes, of course,” he said “But this is my country. I love Ukraine.”
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