Russia-Ukraine war: Around 23 Armenians amid war

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At least 23 ethnic Armenian citizens or residents of Ukraine have been killed since the start of the Russian invasion, according to leaders of the country’s Armenian community.

Davit Mkrtchyan, the deputy chairman of the Union of Armenians of Ukraine, said that 18 of them were civilians while the five others served in the Ukrainian military.

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Many of them are said to hold Armenian passports. The European Union has allowed them to enter Ukraine’s EU neighbours without Schengen visas.

Like millions of Ukrainians, many local Armenians have fled the country since the start of the conflict on February 24. But even their approximate number remains unknown to both the community leaders and Armenia’s government.

Last month, the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said that it had not organized charter flights for such refugees because few of them were willing to relocate to Armenia.

Mkrtchyan disputed that claim, saying that many Armenians expressed a desire to take refuge in Armenia at the start of the devastating war.

According to the Kyiv-based activist, many Armenians remain trapped in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, the epicentre of fierce fighting, particularly the regional city of Mariupol, besieged and partly occupied by Russian troops.

Karen Ghulyan, an Armenian-born man, lived in Mariupol for over two decades. Ghulyan said that he, his family, and other local Armenians risked their lives to flee the war-torn city late last week.

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“I realized that I could lose my family if we don’t get out,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “We got caught in the crossfire.”
Ghulyan said he and his family members moved to a friend’s apartment weeks ago after their house was destroyed by shelling.

“Conditions there were terrible,” he said. “There was a lack of food, water, everything. There were no working shops. They all were empty, looted or bombed.”

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