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24 May. 2023

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Entering Ukraine from russia during the war: who can cross the border and how

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Entering Ukraine from russia during the war: who can cross the border and how

Despite the fact that Ukraine has closed all checkpoints on the border with Belarus and russia, some Ukrainians continue to return via this route. Find out what difficulties Ukrainian citizens face when returning home from the territory of the aggressor country

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Due to the occupation of a large part of the eastern and southern territory of Ukraine by russian troops, thousands of Ukrainians remain stranded in the uncontrolled territory. It is not an easy task to return to Ukraine, as the only relatively safe way is to travel to European countries through russia and Belarus. However, the cost, duration and complexity of such a trip make it impossible for a significant number of Ukrainians.


At the same time, there is more information on the Internet about Ukrainian citizens returning home by crossing the Ukrainian-russian border directly. However, according to official information, all checkpoints with russia and Belarus have been closed since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. So how do Ukrainians return home and what difficulties do they face?


What do the Ukrainian authorities say about crossing the Ukrainian-russian border?


According to Andriy Demchenko, a spokesman for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, all checkpoints are indeed closed, but exceptions are made for Ukrainians, and they are allowed to cross the border. In particular, we are talking about forcibly deported citizens of Ukraine (both adults and children) and those who left the territories occupied by russian troops for russia to return to Ukraine.


Read here about which crossing points on the border with russia and Belarus "work" for Ukrainians and what is needed to return to Ukraine. 


However, the main difficulty lies not in the direct crossing of the border, as the issues of security and provocations by russia are of great importance.


Are Ukrainians being released from russia?


The biggest problem for Ukrainian citizens before crossing the border is the inspection by the russian side. It is impossible to predict whether russian border guards will let Ukrainians out of russia. 


Most often, citizens who have lost their Ukrainian documents face problems at checkpoints on the side of the aggressor country. After all, the russian side often perceives them as russian citizens who are trying to "go over to the side of Ukraine." 

In addition, the russian border guards are particularly attentive to people who have children in the occupied regions of Ukraine, because they actually consider these territories their own and do not allow them to take their children out of russia.


Ukrainians should also be prepared for thorough interrogations and provocative questions. Answers should be calm and clear, without endangering themselves. There is no point in arguing or proving anything to the russian border guards, as this is likely to only provoke them and make it impossible to cross the border.


Is it safe to cross the Ukrainian-russian border?


Unfortunately, the Ukrainian side cannot guarantee complete safety for Ukrainians. After all, russian troops are shelling Ukraine's border areas, including checkpoints, every day. 


Therefore, this route should be planned taking into account the current situation on the state border. From a security point of view, it is easier to cross the border from Belarus, but it requires a longer journey from the territory of russia.




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Are Ukrainians checked after crossing the border with russia?


When crossing the Ukrainian-russian or Belarusian border, Ukrainian citizens are required to undergo filtration. After all, hundreds of collaborators and sabotage groups are trying to enter the territory of the state along with Ukrainians.


The Ukrainian side thoroughly checks documents and phones, asks them to fill out special questionnaires, takes fingerprints and photographs. According to the comments of people who have undergone this procedure, the elderly are assisted in filling out questionnaires and passing the control.


In some cases, when questions arise about a person's status or intentions, the National Police of Ukraine and Security Service officers conduct a personal interview. In this case, it is crucial to answer questions about the status of Crimea and Donbas and cooperation with the aggressor country. Also, important are the circumstances under which the person entered the territory of the russian federation and the availability of russian documents. This is necessary to establish the facts of possible involvement of citizens in collaboration or cooperation with the special services of other countries.


In cases where violations of Ukrainian legislation are recorded, the person is sent for more thorough control, or detained and sent to law enforcement agencies for further consideration of the case.


Can russian citizens enter Ukraine through the Belarusian or russian border?


The checkpoints are open only to Ukrainians, so citizens of other countries cannot use this route. In addition, since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, a visa regime has been introduced between Ukraine and russia, and therefore, to cross the border, you need to apply for a visa and confirm the purpose of your trip. At the same time, a visa does not guarantee russian citizens' entry into the territory of Ukraine. You can also read more about the visa regime between Ukraine and russia in our previous article here.


Can Ukrainians cross the border without a passport or other relevant documents?


Citizens of Ukraine who have partially or completely lost their documents can also return to the territory of the state through the border with Belarus and russia. However, they will need to undergo a special interview and identity check by the police and the migration service. Without passing this procedure, a decision on the citizen's passage cannot be made.


It is important to note that deported Ukrainians who have lost their documents can apply for a special identity card to return to Ukraine. Read how to do this and what is required here.


In the context of a full-scale invasion, careful control by the Ukrainian side is fully justified, as russia may try to infiltrate its spies or members of subversive groups to destabilize the situation in Ukraine.


We remind you! To enter Ukraine, foreign nationals must obtain a visa in accordance with the purpose of their trip. Read more about the types of Ukrainian visas, how to confirm the purpose of the trip and where to apply for a visa to enter Ukraine in our previous article.




We recommend purchasing it for a safe and comfortable trip to Ukraine: 


Visit Ukraine Insurance - safe travel in Ukraine (insurance covering military risks);

Visit Ukraine Tickets - book bus and train tickets to/from Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Tours - the largest online database of tours to Ukraine for every taste;

Visit Ukraine Hotels - book hotels for a comfortable stay in Ukraine;

Visit Ukraine Merch - choose patriotic clothing and accessories with worldwide delivery.

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