EU ready and 'well prepared' to host Ukrainian refugees, says Commissioner Ylva Johansson

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By Euronews
EU Commissioner Johansson said the EU had "contingency plans" to deal with a possible wave of Ukrainian refugees.
EU Commissioner Johansson said the EU had "contingency plans" to deal with a possible wave of Ukrainian refugees.   -  Copyright  Virginia Mayo/Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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.

"We are looking into the support from the EU asylum agency with processing asylum applications, the support from Frontex with registration and border management, and the support from Europol as well."

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 or how many Poland had committed to host, but she 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.