Tensions between Russia and Ukraine show no sign of abating, with thousands of Britons being urged to flee Ukraine immediately over growing concerns a war could break out in the coming days, reports i news.
The Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to urge UK nationals to “leave now while commercial means are still available,” as defense ministers ruled out an Afghanistan-style military airlift.
The order was issued as intelligence and advice from experts on the ground suggested an increased threat level, with an invasion deemed highly likely.
Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said an invasion could come “at any time”, with Russian President Vladimir Putin having amassed an estimated 130,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. US intelligence officials believe that Mr Putin has now decided to press ahead with an invasion, with the ultimate goal of ousting Ukraine’s pro-Western government.
One horrifying outcome of such a war would be a huge human cost.
Last week, senior Biden administration officials told the US President if Mr Putin went ahead with a full invasion, this could lead to the potential deaths of 25,000 to 50,000 civilians.
In addition, 5,000 to 25,000 members of the Ukrainian military and 3,000 to 10,000 members of the Russian military would likely be lost in the process, The New York Times reported.
A humanitarian crisis could also be triggered.
In 2014-2015, the conflict in eastern Ukraine provoked a full-blown human rights crisis. Millions of people were forced to leave their homes, and according to the Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, about 1.45 million people are still internally displaced after fleeing.
Senior Biden administration officials said an imminent uprising from Russia could result in one million to five million refugees, with many of them pouring into Poland.
“It is frightening to imagine what scale the refugee crisis could reach in the event of escalating hostilities in Ukraine. It will be a continent-wide humanitarian disaster with millions of refugees seeking protection in neighbouring European countries,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary-General of Amnesty International.
Poland is preparing for a massive influx of up to a million Ukrainian refugees if Russia attacks, Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wąsik told Polish Radio.
Oleksii Reznikov, Ukraine’s Minister of Defense, said: “A major war in Ukraine would plunge the whole of Europe into crisis. The sudden appearance of between three and five million Ukrainian refugees fleeing the Russian invasion would be just one of many major concerns facing European society.”
Russians would not be immune to the consequences either, with Western sanctions likely to hammer the country’s economy and leave millions struggling.
Potential gas crisis
Violence could disrupt the gas flow from Russia, which could worsen existing energy shortages and further hike up prices for European consumers in the surging energy prices.
Russia is one of the world’s largest energy suppliers and it could cut off supply if faced with any sanctions for attacking Ukraine.
Europe depends on Russia for around 40 per cent of its gas and 25 per cent of its oil imports, so this would have a significant impact across the continent. While the UK is less reliant on Russian gas than other countries, experts say British consumers would still see an impact.
Wheat exports from the two countries could be significantly impacted by the escalating conflict. Currently, their exports amount for nearly 29 per cent of global supply, and disruption could further plunge people into food insecurity in the midst of the rising cost of living due to pandemic-related supply issues .
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Source: i news