The European Union is ready and “well prepared” to take in refugees fleeing Ukraine, Ylva Johansson, the European Commissioner for home affairs, told Euronews.
Her comments come as fears grow that Russia’s intensifying military campaign could soon cause a wave of migrants seeking shelter in nearby EU countries. No major movements of people have been detected so far.
“The focus has been on the contingency planning for the very dangerous situation in Ukraine. We don’t know what would be the next step of [President Vladimir] Putin, but we have to be prepared if there will be a massive inflow of refugees of Ukrainians into the European Union,” she said.
Johansson spoke to Euronews from Poland, a neighbouring country that is already bracing for a possible influx of Ukrainian citizens fleeing Russian military aggression.
“Poland is, of course, a key country here,” she said.
“I’m quite convinced about that contingency plans that they have. And I must say, of course, nobody knows exactly if this will be enough or not. But I think that they [Poland] are quite well prepared and this is good.”
“We are also quite well prepared from our side,” the Commissioner added.
Johansson avoided giving figures on how many asylum-seekers the bloc was expecting in case of a military invasion but expressed confidence that unity among member states will hold in the face of uncertain and difficult circumstances.
“We can expect a lot of EU unity and EU solidarity towards Ukrainian if the situation deteriorates significantly,” she said.
“We also see a very strong and determined united EU together with the international community together with us against Putin.”
Johansson’s comments come as Russian lawmakers give President Putin permission to use military force outside the country. The vote formalises a Russian military deployment to the rebel regions, the so-called Donestk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic, which Putin recognised as independent.