By Nick Quattrini
WARSAW, POLAND (WENY) – As winter begins to set in and the temperatures drop, more people in Ukraine are fleeing the country as Russian missile strikes threaten critical infrastructure, such as heat and electricity services across the country.
When they go to leave, they encounter hours long waits at the border with Poland. Miles and miles of cars and trucks, waiting to cross. For comparison, crossing the border from the Canada into the United State, may take less than 30 minutes to an hour. But some Ukrainians in Lviv tell WENY News they waited up to 12 hours to either leave or get back into Ukraine.
For Sally Baer of Lakewood, New York, in Chautauqua County, she knows the border wait times to enter Ukraine all too well.
“I’ve been to Ukraine four times and I leave a week from Monday for my fifth trip, and I have been doing some humanitarian aid, medical aid, over $650,000 since the beginning of the war,” she explained to WENY’s Nick Quattrini.
As Nick and WENY’s Rachel Knapp left Ukraine for Poland, it took them just over five hours to cross the border. But depending what lane they drove into as they approached the border crossing, it could have been much longer. They left the country just days after Russia launched a series of missile strikes across the country, likely contributing to the increased traffic of people leaving the country for safety.
“So you guys are right there in an incredibly awkward moment in the war. That missile going into Poland [on November 16] really set everybody on edge in Europe, across the world. So that created a huge problem. Also, you’re now dealing with this massive amount of people in Ukraine in the middle of winter. It’s very cold. And all of their electric, their heat and their water is constantly being threatened. Almost everybody I know has issues with one or three, all three of those utilities, those comforts. And so many, many people are going to try to leave right now to get out for the wintertime. They’ve also been encouraged in some ways to do that and that they the government’s, asking people to be very mindful of the usage in order that they don’t collapse their systems,” Baer said.
People living across much of Ukraine also experience power outages and rolling blackouts, some of which may last for just a few seconds to several hours. In Lviv, some businesses have generators they can rely on, but for many residents, it may be an unaffordable luxury, or impossible to buy one due to high demand.