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In this handout photo taken from video released by Ukrainian Police Department Press Service, Military helicopters apparently Russian, fly over the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian troops have launched their anticipated attack on Ukraine. Big explosions were heard before dawn in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Odesa as world leaders decried the start of an Russian invasion that could cause massive casualties and topple Ukraine's democratically elected government. (Ukrainian Police Department Press Service via AP)

China Irked That Its Nationals Caught in Crossfire in Kyiv

Chinese nationals in Kyiv, Ukraine’s national capital, are facing heightened “security risks” amid Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine this week, China’s state-run Global Times reported Thursday.

The Chinese Embassy in Kyiv issued a notice on February 24 in anticipation of Beijing’s need to organize the return of an estimated 6,000 Chinese nationals living in Ukraine, mainly in the cities of Kyiv, Lvov, Kharkov, Odessa, and Sumy.

“Given the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country, Chinese nationals and companies are facing high security risks. For this reason, the embassy is preparing charter flights and asked all Chinese nationals to voluntarily register,” the notice read, as paraphrased by the Global Times.

In this handout photo taken from video released by Ukrainian Police Department Press Service, Military helicopters apparently Russian, fly over the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Ukrainian Police Department Press Service via AP)

“The embassy has issued [a] safety alert to Chinese nationals in Ukraine and ask[s] Chinese businesses and students unions to instruct Chinese nationals and offer help to those in need,” the state-run newspaper further relayed. “It advised Chinese nationals to remain indoors and hang Chinese national flags on their cars when going outside.”

A Ukrainian military vehicle drives in central Kyiv on February 24, 2022. (DANIEL LEAL/AFP via Getty Images)

The Global Times interviewed two Chinese nationals living in Kyiv who said they awoke to the sounds of bombs going off early Thursday morning followed by air sirens sounding in the national capital later in the day. One such person, a businesswoman, said she witnessed Ukrainians fleeing the city by car via western-oriented land routes on February 24.

“There are also many residents who cannot run away, including the local Chinese who do not have an EU [European Union] visa,” the unnamed woman lamented.

The publication also interviewed a Chinese national living outside Kyiv in the Black Sea port city of Odessa who witnessed similar signs of war as in the national capital. Chen, who lives on Odessa’s outskirts, recounted waking up “to the sound of an explosion” around 4:30 a.m. on February 24. The man said he thought the sound “was a wheel blowing up, but later he was told it was an artillery shell explosion.”

Russia’s military launched an air and ground offensive in Ukraine in the early morning hours of February 24. The action followed 72 hours after Moscow announced its choice to formally recognize two Russian-backed breakaway states in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass territory. China’s government has not denounced the action. While the governments of the U.S. and the U.K. announced the imposition of financial sanctions against Russia on Thursday in response to its invasion of Ukraine, Beijing chose to lift all remaining import sanctions on Russian wheat. The decision essentially paves the way for Moscow to continue generating income despite the Western sanctions.

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