Ukrainian refugees fleeing Russian onslaught could overwhelm Moldova


This story was produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center.

CHISINAU, Moldova — The hem of her purple skirt brushed the tiled floor as Kristina Paleshev anxiously paced while cradling her crying baby daughter Maria.

Sitting at a table with aid workers, forms and documents spread out before him, her husband, Oleksandr, once again explained what had happened: the Russian artillery bombardment that killed their neighbour. The heartbreaking decision to abandon their home in Mykolaiv. The scary eight-hour drive through western Ukraine to the Moldovan border. The car breaks down when they arrive in Chisinau, the Moldovan capital. Their five children who wake up with a start during the night at the slightest noise, afraid of being attacked again.

“We want to go back. I love my country and my city,” Paleshev, 38, said as a tear rolled down his cheek. “I cry because our people are being killed.”

Paleshev, her husband and their children are among the 3 million refugees who have fled Ukraine since the February 24 Russian invasion. While most refugees, especially those from the Kyiv region, flocked to Poland, around 350,000 entered Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries.


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