The Situation of Forced Migrants from Ukraine in Europe after Russian Military Aggression and the Problems of Ukraine’s Migration Policy in These New Conditions

  • Published in:
    Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Vol. 12, No. 1, 2023, pp. 159-181
    DOI: 10.54667/ceemr.2023.17

    17 October 2022


    28 June 2023

    Views: 1701

This article assesses the situation of forced migrants from Ukraine in European countries. I use data from the Statistical Bureaux and sociological institutions of Ukraine and recipient countries and from international organisations. Semi-structured interviews with experts were conducted in order to expand the information base of the research and obtain more substantiated analytical results and the trends of forced migration from Ukraine since 24 February 2022 were investigated. An attempt was made to explain the difference between the data from various sources regarding the migration of Ukrainians caused by the Russian war against Ukraine. The hierarchy of problems of forced migrants from Ukraine is determined on the base of in-depth interviews of experts. An attempt was made to estimate the impact of the forced migration of Ukrainians on local markets of goods and services. The recommendations for minimising the irreversible migration losses of the population of Ukraine are developed.


Keywords: Ukraine, forced migrants from Ukraine, Russian war against Ukraine, forced migrants from Ukraine in Europe, migration policy


The Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 led to unprecedented population movement – the most massive flow in Europe after the Second World War. Residents of the regions of Ukraine adjacent to the front zone and the occupied territories began to leave, heading not only for relatively safe Ukrainian regions but also for foreign countries.

Even before the full-scale invasion, the migration situation in Ukraine could hardly be called favourable. Since the 1990s, the country has been one of the largest suppliers of labour force in Europe. According to the data from the third national survey on labour migration, which was conducted by the State Statistics Committee of Ukraine between January and June 2017, the number of Ukranian citizens aged 15–70 who, from the beginning of 2015 to the middle of 2017, were working or looking for a job abroad, amounted to 1.3 million persons or 4.5 per cent of the age-matched population (SSSU 2017). Compared to the data from the second nationwide survey on relevant issues conducted in 2012 (ILO 2013), the level of participation of the population of Ukraine aged 15–70 in external labour migration increased by a third. At the same time, the survey could not cover the members of households which had gone abroad in their entirety and had been living there for many years, as well as persons who went to work abroad before 2015 and have not since returned to Ukraine. In other words, the real scale of Ukrainian labour migration is greater and, on the eve of the Covid-19 pandemic, was estimated at between 2.5 and 3.0 million people (Pyrozhkov, Libanova, Novikova, Skrypnyuk, Ustymenko, Khamitov and Shulga 2018). The main recipient countries of the Ukrainian workforce, according to the 2017 survey, were Poland (38.9 per cent), the Russian Federation (26.3 per cent), Italy (11.3 per cent) and the Czech Republic (9.4 per cent) (SSSU 2017). Since 2014, the departure of qualified specialists has also increased (Drbohlav and Jaroszewicz 2016). As a result, Ukrainian employers began to experience difficulties in recruiting qualified personnel due to labour migration abroad.

In the conditions of war, not only the scale but also the very nature of migration changes, the composition of migrants undergoes transformations and, therefore, the study of new migrations from Ukraine to European countries becomes of paramount importance. The purpose of this article is to assess the situation of forced migrants from Ukraine, determine their problems and develop recommendations for minimising irreversible migration losses for the population of Ukraine. The issue of determining the consequences of the departure of forced external migrants for the country, as well as a detailed assessment of the probable level of their return to Ukraine and its factors, is beyond the scope of this article and is expected to be the subject of a separate publication.

Theoretical background

This study focuses on assessing the changes and nature of Ukrainian migration caused by military aggression and takes into account that any crisis leads to the transformation of migration processes. Crises are considered by the author as an aggravation of contradictions (political, economic and social). The Russian war against Ukraine became the most significant, although not the first, crisis in Ukraine after the declaration of independence. Crises lead to disruption of the stable development of the economy. In the history of Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR – and until 2022 – Ukrainian scientists Opanasiuk, Martynets and Matvieieva (2021) single out the following crises, which were accompanied by declines in the country's GDP:

  1. The crisis of 1998–1999. This crisis arose as an echo of the global crisis.
  2. The crisis of 2009, which initially affected the industrially developed countries of Europe and Asia and later began in the developing countries. Ukraine became one of the countries the most affected by this crisis.
  3. The economic and political crisis of 2013–2015. The crisis began in 2013 amid political protests and intensified in 2014 in connection with the beginning of the ‘anti-terrorist operation’1 in the East of Ukraine.
  4. The Covid-19 pandemic, which caused a crisis in many countries in 2020. The pandemic led to the introduction of severe restrictive measures that affected not only social development but also the economic development of countries around the world.

These crises were each of a different nature but the economic, political and military problems caused by them always stimulated the transformation of the migratory activity of the population in one way or another. The crisis of 1998–1999 contributed to the formation of flows of external labour migration (Vollmer and Malynovska 2016). Later, Ukraine became one of the countries the most affected by the crisis of 2009, which led to a reduction in the volume of temporary labour migration but contributed to its transition into a permanent form (Pyrozhkov et al. 2018). The consequences of the economic and political crisis of 2013–2015, accompanied by military intervention, were an increase in the intensity of external migration – in particular an increase in the share of young people and highly qualified persons among migrants (Drbohlav and Jaroszewicz 2016). The Covid-19 pandemic caused a crisis in many countries in 2020 and led, in particular, to the restriction of international population movements (Libanova and Pozniak 2020).

Migration transformations in Ukraine, caused by the 2022 crisis, are studied both in Ukraine and in the world. Ukrainian researchers reviewed the decisions by European government bodies which establish the mechanisms for receiving refugees, estimated the implementation of temporary protection directive (Council Directive 2001/55/EC of 20 July 2001), analysed the attitudes towards Ukrainian refugees abroad (Filipchuk, Lomonosova, Syrbu and Kabanets 2022) and attempted to assess the scale of forced migration of the population of Ukraine and to identify the consequences of large-scale migratory movements (Libanova, Pozniak and Tsymbal 2022). In-depth studies of Ukrainian forced migrants in recipient countries – including the socio-demographic structure of migrants, their situation and the consequences for the receiving countries – were carried out, in particular, by scientists from Poland (Bukowski and Duszczyk 2022; Chmielewska-Kalińska, Dudek and Strzelecki 2022) and the Czech Republic (Klimešová, Šatava and Ondruška 2022). At the same time, the situation with forced migration from Ukraine was changing dynamically, which determines the relevance of further research in this area.

The escape from the war in Ukraine is qualitatively different from the previous waves of forced migration to Europe – in particular in terms of gender and age characteristics and especially in terms of intentions regarding labour activity. Ukrainians who arrive in the EU and its neighbouring countries because of full-scale Russian aggression rarely try to get refugee status – instead they more often apply for temporary protection which, in particular, gives the right to employment. At the same time, there are problems with using the term ‘refugees’ to denote all forced migrants from Ukraine, even by international organisations and portals (Statista 2022; UNHCR 2022b).

In this paper the term ‘forced migrants from Ukraine’ (‘forced external migrants’) is used as a general term for all persons who were forced to move from Ukraine to foreign countries regardless of the status obtained in the recipient country. The article examines, in particular, the contingent of migrants who left Ukraine after the Russian invasion (both Ukrainian citizens and foreigners who lived in Ukraine before 24 February 2022) and had a permit for permanent or temporary residence or the status of a refugee or a person entitled to additional protection in European countries (i.e., EU countries, EFTA countries, Great Britain, Moldova, Western Balkan countries, Turkey and countries of the southern Caucasus2).

Method of data collection

This study uses data from the authorities and sociological institutions of Ukraine and recipient countries, as well as international organisations. The daily data on the number of border crossings (from and to Ukraine) from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU) are used to estimate the scale of forced migration from Ukraine. A comparative analysis of these data was carried out with the official data from the EU countries, published on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Operational Data Portal and Portal Statista for the period from the end of February to mid-October 2022. In addition, data from both portals were used to find out the distribution of forced migrants from Ukraine by country of destination.

To estimate the number and structure of Ukrainians who have received PESEL3 in Poland since the beginning of the full-scale war, Poland’s data portal information was analysed. Investigation of the structure of forced migrants from Ukraine in Europe, their situation in European countries and the problems they face is based on data from the special surveys of forced migrants from Ukraine conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and sociological institutions of Ukraine, Poland and the Czech Republic. Statistical and sociological data were collected from open sources.

All analysed data refer to the period after the beginning of the Russian invasion except for the data of the State Statistics Service of Ukraine (SSSU) about Ukrainian labour migration until 2022, which are considered in the context of a general review.

When using data from sociological surveys, we should take into account that, during the condition of the war, ensuring representative sample surveys is extremely complicated. Sociological institutions of Ukraine usually conduct telephone interviews. However, the holders of Ukrainian telephone numbers who are abroad include not only those who left due to the war but also external labour migrants who were working abroad before the active phase of the war. Besides, many Ukrainian phones were lost or taken by the Russian occupiers. Even in recipient countries, it is difficult to ensure the representativeness of the sample, since the various categories of forced migrants may show different degrees of readiness to participate in surveys.

To expand the information base of the research and obtain additional and more substantiated analytical results, in-depth semi-structured interviews with experts were conducted. A comparative analysis of the results of these expert interviews, statistical sources and sociological surveys was then carried out. This paper was prepared in Autumn 2022.

In total, 23 interviews with experts were conducted between 13 July and 7 September 2022 (see Annex 1). The target groups of experts (separate lists of questions were developed for each group) are:

  1. Ukrainian forced external migrants with a scientific degree;
  2. scientists and representatives of authorities of the recipient countries;
  3. representatives of local self-government bodies and scientists of the recipient regions of Ukraine; and
  4. IDPs who have a scientific degree.

Of all the experts interviewed, 15 people belong to the first and second categories. The interviews with the eight experts of the third and fourth groups were mainly related to intra-state forced migration – however, a number of questions refer to external migration.

People who are knowledgeable about the researched issues were selected as experts. When constructing a pool of experts, the following tasks were set:

  1. Each of the two main recipient countries (Poland and Germany) must be represented by at least two persons, including at least one resident of this country and at least one forced migrant from Ukraine.
  2. The Czech Republic should be represented as the third among the EU countries in terms of the number of forced migrants from Ukraine and Moldova as the only country of the former USSR – except for the aggressor countries – which borders Ukraine.
  3. Other represented countries should include at least one Baltic country, one more Central and Eastern European country and one more country from the so-called ‘old’ EU members.
  4. Represented recipient regions should include at least two Western and two Central oblasts of Ukraine.

The selection of experts was based on the author’s personal contacts. In addition, the recommendations of the interviewees regarding additional nominations of experts were taken into account. Unfortunately, not all invited persons responded to the invitation. However, it was possible to complete all the tasks related to the construction of the group of experts.

The interviewed experts represent eight foreign countries (Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic, Finland, Estonia, Hungary, France and Moldova) and five regions of Ukraine (Lviv, Zakarpattia, Ternopil, Vinnytsia and Kyiv oblasts). Twenty scientists and three representatives of authorities were interviewed. Interviews were conducted mostly online (via Zoom).

The most interviewed scientists are migration research specialists; the others are specialists in related sciences (demographic, social and political). All representatives of authorities hold management positions and are faced with the problems of forced migrants. The experts participated in the survey voluntarily, with prior consent and on the condition of anonymity.

In addition, a separate version of the questionnaire was developed for short interviews with the leaders of immigrant communities in Ukraine (four questions). Three such interviews (conversations) were conducted by phone with the leaders of the African, Vietnamese and Syrian communities in Ukraine to learn about changes in the situation in their communities after 24 February 2022.

Semi-structured interviews with experts is a qualitative research method and the author’s use of their results to show quantitative characteristics does not claim to be fully representative.

Scale of forced migration from Ukraine

According to the UNHCR (2022b), as of 4 October 2022, there were 4.2 million forced migrants from Ukraine in European countries,4 of whom 34 per cent found refuge in Poland, 17 per cent settled in Germany and 11 per cent in the Czech Republic. At the same time, as of mid-September 2022, the Czech Republic and Estonia shared the first and second places in the EU in terms of the relative indicator of the number of forced migrants from Ukraine per 1,000 inhabitants in country, surpassing Poland (which ranks third according to the corresponding indicator) by 14 per cent and Germany by 3.4 times (Statista 2022). According to interviews with experts, the final place of evacuation was chosen mostly randomly (this was reported, in particular, by the interviewed forced migrants from Ukraine), the more often taking into account the presence of relatives and acquaintances, the distance and the cost of living, as well as on the basis of previous experience of staying in the corresponding country or the desire to visit it. The choice of Moldova by some migrants was often due to the fact that it is a country of the same type as Ukraine – that is, from the former republic of the USSR – and which, like Ukraine, chose the European vector of development, has a similar language situation and has a population of similar mentality. The forced migrants themselves noted that the main reasons that prompted Ukrainians to choose a particular country were the presence of friends and relatives in this country (55 per cent were guided by this), the proximity to the border with Ukraine (32 per cent) and job opportunities and social benefits (15 and 14 per cent respectively). According to this survey of forced migrants, the main incentive for orientation towards Poland was proximity (territorial, cultural, language), while Germany was chosen due to better social conditions for refugees and the Czech Republic due to wider employment opportunities (4Service Group 2022b).

At the same time, the UNHCR (2022b) claimed that 7.6 million ‘refugees from Ukraine are recorded across Europe’ in early October 2022. This number includes people who have entered European countries and is based on information from border-guard services. However, both Ukrainian and foreign border-guard services record not the number of persons who crossed the border but the number of border crossings.

According to data from the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (SBGSU 2022a), over 9.6 million ‘persons left Ukraine’, according to the original terminology, in the period 24 February–9 October. In fact, the data relate to border crossings not the number of persons. They refer to the borders with EU countries and Moldova – since the checkpoints on the borders with the Russian Federation, Belarus and the Transnistrian section of the border with Moldova have been closed from the beginning of the war – and also include foreigners who were actively leaving Ukraine during the first weeks of the war (for example, of 110,000 persons who crossed the borders of Ukraine with Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary on 27 February 2022, foreigners accounted for approximately 18 per cent, although their share in the total population of Ukraine barely exceeded 1 per cent). Short interviews with the leaders of migrant communities showed that 90–95 per cent of representatives of the African, Vietnamese and Syrian diasporas left Ukraine. Unfortunately, when trying to reach most of the leaders and representatives of other communities by phone, the answering machines reported that the account for each number had not been replenished for several months, which is collateral evidence that the owners had left Ukraine. Those immigrants who have remained in Ukraine mostly have Ukrainian citizenship, families and businesses.

The reverse flow is also large-scale: in total, from the beginning of the war until mid-October 2022, according to the SBGSU (2022a), more than 7.9 million border crossings to Ukraine have been registered. Initially, in the first two weeks, men were actively returning from abroad, their specific weight reaching 80 per cent among the 200,000 persons who entered Ukraine. They were mostly labour migrants returning with the aim of participating in the defence of their country and helping their families in these troubled times, etc. (SBGSU 2022b). According to the Polish scientists interviewed, many of them had quit their jobs. As a result of the war, there was a shortage of workers in Poland in certain industries (for example, logistics, transport, construction) due to the return of some Ukrainian men who worked in Poland before the war and were involved in the defence of the country (Bukowski and Duszczyk 2022).

Based on the data of the Ukrainian border guards, information about the departure of millions of people and the return of the vast majority of forced migrants to Ukraine is spreading widely. In fact, already at the turn of March–April 2022, the bulk of border crossings in both directions began to take on various forms of pendulum migration (as a result, many people entered the statistics on border crossings several times). On the basis of various sources of information – in particular, the analysis of the daily dynamics of the number of crossings of the state border – it is possible to define the following types of pendulum migration in the border regions of Ukraine:

  1. The temporary return of external labour migrants for the celebration of Easter (which, in 2022, fell on 17 and 24 April) with subsequent re-departure. On Friday–Saturday, on the eve of Catholic Easter according to the SBGSU daily data, 74,000 persons entered Ukraine – or 37,000 on average per day; on the eve of Orthodox Easter, this number was 73,000 persons or 36,500 per day while, during the period from Monday 18 to Thursday 21 April, an average of 32,000 persons entered the state per day.
  2. The arrival of Ukrainian women/children to meet their husbands/parents (in April this flow partially overlapped with the flow of arrivals to celebrate Easter). This explains the significantly higher number of entries to Ukraine on Saturdays in the period from 28 March to 17 July 2022 – on average, 38,700 persons; on Fridays, 37,700 persons arrived while, on other days of the week, 31,700–37,300 persons). The arrival of women in Ukraine on a Saturday is the optimal solution; in this case their husbands can come to the border regions, spend the weekend with them and return to the workplace by Monday morning. On the other hand, the peak values ​​of exits during this period were not so strongly tied to the days of the week, as the duration of the short-term stay of women/children in Ukraine varied from less than one to several days (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Number of border crossings for exit from and entry to Ukraine by day of the week, on average per day in the periods 28 March to 17 July 2022 and 18 July to 09 October 2022, in thousands of persons

Source: calculated from data by SBGSU (2022a)

  1. The process of pendulum migration for the purpose of withdrawing cash abroad using Ukrainian bank cards – so-called ‘card tourism’ – which is quite profitable given the exchange rate difference when withdrawing cash in Ukraine and abroad (Sundries 2022). This included, where possible, further resales of foreign currency on the ‘black market’. Card tourism was active until October 2022, when the National Bank of Ukraine (NBU) introduced limits on cash withdrawals abroad, which helped to stop this process (NBU 2022).
  2. The so-called ‘automobile pendulum migration’ related to the import of used cars for personal use and for sale without paying excise duty from 5 April. During the validity of the permit (April–June 2022), on average 1.2–1.3 times more cars crossed the state border of Ukraine per day in both directions than before and after the expiration of the permit (unfortunately, the SBGSU does not provide information separately on the number of exits and entries of automobiles). According to media reports, Ukrainian women went abroad en masse to purchase cars because their husbands could not leave Ukraine during the war (Shevchuk 2022).
  3. Light cross-border traffic: border crossing by the residents of the territory located within 30 km of the common border with Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary, for various social, cultural, family and economic reasons not related to paid work. This includes the delivery of products in small batches (i.e, within the limits that are not subject to customs duties); in the longer term, the delivery of construction materials, which was common before the war, continues. From the middle of July, the peak of arrivals shifted from Saturday to Sunday and, on Saturdays, noticeable peaks of departures began to be observed (Figure 1). This obviously indicates that the temporary return of women who received protection in the EU countries began to give way numerically to the process of small cross-border traffic. For such participants, it is just convenient to return on Sunday (i.e. by the beginning of the working week), leaving again on Friday evening, Saturday or Sunday morning.
  4. The movement of volunteers associated with periodical trips abroad and back.

According to the SBGSU, the total number of forced external migrants who left in the direction of EU countries and Moldova during the period of dominance of forced departure, up to the end of March (i.e., before the formation of the system of the above-mentioned pendulum flows), was 2.37 million persons, of whom about 410,000 are already returnees to Ukraine (cumulative difference between arrivals and departures for the period 10 May–9 October 2022). Besides, according to reports by Russian high-ranking officials in the media, between 1.5 and 2 million Ukrainians left or were deported to the aggressor countries by Autumn 2022. However, in my opinion, these reports do not inspire confidence. So, it seems impossible to determine the number of deported Ukrainians with a high degree of accuracy.

At the same time, the interviewed experts speculated about the possibility of a new wave of forced migration from Ukraine in late autumn 2022 due to expected interruptions in heat and electricity supply in Ukraine. Similar opinions are currently expressed by representatives of the government structures of EU countries – Germany in particular (Deutsche Welle 2022).

There is a significant difference between the number of persons who left Ukraine via the Western border during the war, according to data on the balance of border crossings of the State Border Service of Ukraine (1.7 million in mid-October 2022) and the number of registered forced migrants in foreign European countries (4.2 million). An attempt is made below to explain the possible reasons for this difference based on both confirmed facts and the author’s assumptions:

  1. The arrival of Ukrainians to the EU from third countries, in particular those who were on vacation or on a business trip before the start of the Russian war against Ukraine.
  2. The arrival of Ukrainian citizens from the territory of the aggressor countries.
  3. The undercounting of those who left Ukraine in the peak period: Ukrainian border guards in some places did not have time to process all forced migrants and even the counting of the persons who were crossing the border could have errors. Thus, according to SBGSU data, from the beginning of the war until 10 October 2022, about 6 million exits to Poland via the Ukrainian-Polish border were recorded while, according to Polish border guards, the number of entries from Ukraine to Poland during the same period exceeded 6.9 million (Bałakyr 2022).
  4. The continuation of those who had actually returned to the homeland being registered as forced migrants from Ukraine.
  5. The illegal departure from Ukraine of male Ukrainian citizens between the ages of 18 and 60. This is prohibited during the legal regime of martial law, with the exception of certain categories of persons who are not subject to conscription according to the Law of Ukraine ‘On Mobilisation Preparation and Mobilisation’ (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine 2022b) (unfit for military service, single parents, men who have three or more dependent children under the age of 18 or a disabled child, etc.). At the same time, there are reports in the mass media about numerous attempts – both unsuccessful and successful – by men who are subject to mobilisation, to go abroad (BBC 2023; Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (MIAU) 2023).
  6. The probable double counting of Ukrainians who were able to register in different EU countries using different passports (Ukrainians, mainly residents of the western regions of the country, often have two valid foreign passports, including those with different Latin transliterations of the Ukrainian surname). In assessing the volume of migration of Ukrainians to all foreign European countries (and not only to EU countries that have an agreed migration policy), such a likelihood is growing.
  7. The obtention of temporary protection by Ukrainian migrants who worked in EU countries by 24 February 2022: they could join their family members who left after the beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine or make a temporary formal departure outside the Schengen area zone with a subsequent return.

It was mostly women, children and the elderly who left Ukraine. In particular, in the total number of people who left Ukraine in the period 24 February to 10 April 2022, according to SBGSU data, the specific weight of women was 66 per cent. The peculiarities of the age structure of those who have left Ukraine are as follows: 31 per cent of people under 18 years of age and 13 per cent of those over 60 years of age. According to the structural characteristics of those who left, the first day of the war (24 February) stands out, when the ban on the departure of men aged 18–60 who could be mobilised had not yet been put into effect. Accordingly, among those who left Ukraine on 24 February, men of the appropriate age accounted for more than 40.5 per cent while, in the period 25 February to 10 April it was 11.2 per cent. In June 2022, of all Ukrainian adults in European countries, according to one of the surveys, women accounted for 82 per cent (4Service Group 2022a), while only 14 per cent of respondents went abroad without children, 29 per cent with two children and 9 per cent with three or more. According to a number of surveys conducted by the IOM, UNHCR and recipient country organisations, women account for 80–90 per cent of adult forced migrants from Ukraine in the Eastern European countries of the EU and Moldova (EWL 2022; IOM 2022b, d, e; UNHCR 2022a, c).

However, according to some experts interviewed by the author, the share of men among the forced migrants from Ukraine is gradually increasing – due to illegal arrival (mainly to Moldova) or entry through the border with Russia (mainly to Finland). According to the Polish Ministry of Digital Affairs (2022), among the Ukrainians who received PESEL, the share of men aged 18 to 65 increased from between 3.2 and 3.3 per cent in mid-March 2022 to 8.3 per cent in mid-October 2022 (Figure 2).

On the other hand, among third-country nationals forced to leave Ukraine (foreigners who, before the war, resided in Ukraine and were forced to leave), men predominate, their share in Germany being 71 per cent (IOM 2022c) and in Belgium, 90 per cent (IOM 2022a).

Residents of cities dominate among those who have left, with most of them having a higher education or an academic degree. This, obviously, is the basis of their somewhat high competitiveness in the labour market, even if they have to work in a different profession. According to data from the study ‘Refugees from Ukraine in Poland’ conducted by the Migration Platform EWL, the Support Fund for Migrants on the Labour Market – ‘EWL’ – and the Centre for East European Studies of the University of Warsaw, 63 per cent of forced migrants from Ukraine, owing to special decisions of the Polish government, want to get a job in Poland, 61 per cent have higher education, 55 per cent claim knowledge of the English language and 26 per cent knowledge of Polish, at least at a conversational level (Galinfo 2022). At the same time, the main problems for employment are a lack of proper knowledge of the local language, the inadequacy of migrants’ qualifications compared to the needs of the local labour market, family problems related to children and possibly elderly parents who have also left for EU countries (Voskoboynyk 2023).

Figure 2. Number of Ukrainians who have received PESEL in Poland since the beginning of the full-scale war, by gender and age (cumulative data)

Source: calculated from data from Poland’s Data Portal (2022).

The situation of forced migrants from Ukraine in Europe

All the experts interviewed noted the positive attitude of the local population towards forced migrants from Ukraine – they have a high opinion of the activities of non-governmental organisations in supporting them. The forced migrant female interviewees from Ukraine noted that they did not even expect such an attitude. There was an unprecedented and positive reaction by the societies of the host countries. Europeans immediately felt solidarity with Ukrainians affected by the Russian war against Ukraine. A survey conducted by the Razumkov Centre (2022) in July–August 2022 showed that Ukrainian forced migrants highly valued the support and assistance provided to them in the country where they were hosted – by the state authorities, non-governmental organisations and the host-country citizens. Some 38 per cent of respondents answered that they were very satisfied with this help, 41 per cent that they were quite satisfied, 8 per cent that they were somewhat dissatisfied and 5 per cent that they were not at all satisfied with it.

In particular, Finns helping Ukrainians drew parallels with the equally unjust Winter War of 1939–1940. Most of the interviewed experts believed that the activities of civil society, non-governmental and international organisations in rendering assistance to Ukrainians are even more effective than those of the central and local authorities. The Ukrainian diaspora was also actively involved in helping the newly arrived. In particular, in the Czech Republic, approximately 28 per cent of those offering solidarity assistance for the accommodation of forced migrants from Ukraine in their homes were Ukrainians who had lived in the Czech Republic before the war (Klimešová et al. 2022). The representatives of the so-called ‘old’ diaspora, as well as labour migrants from the period of Ukraine’s independence, all helped to create Ukrainian centres in the recipient countries, organising holidays and meetings (so-called ‘tea parties’). At the same time, some experts note that there were some misunderstandings between Russian-speaking and Ukrainian-speaking Ukrainians.

Assistance to Ukrainians was especially active in the first months. However, a number of interviewed experts noted that it was clear to them from the very beginning that such solidarity could not last long. Gradually, more and more fatigue was felt, in particular amidst increasing inflation in European countries. There was dissatisfaction on the part of the poorer layers of the population of the recipient countries, who felt that the aid was given to Ukrainians and not to them. Migrant communities from outside Europe were also outraged that their compatriots were not received in as kindly a way as Ukrainians, accusing the peoples of the recipient countries of racism.

However, although the interviewed experts report the presence of sentiments of fatigue from the flow of migration from Ukraine, the governments and public opinion of European countries continue to express their readiness for the arrival of refugees from Ukraine and the provision of support for them. According to the survey conducted in Poland by the international organisation Ipsos for in September 2022, the question ‘If people from Ukraine who are currently in Poland stayed in Poland for many years, would it be good or bad for Poland?’, the majority of respondents agreed that it would be good: 14 per cent chose the ‘definitely good’ option and 51 per cent said ‘quite good’ ( 2022). Only 27 per cent of respondents answered negatively. The positive attitude towards Ukrainians is higher among Polish men than among women and increases with the size of the settlement where the respondent lives, their personal income and the social status of the respondent. EU citizens continue to show their unwavering solidarity with Ukraine – 91 per cent of respondents agree with the provision of humanitarian support and 88 per cent are in favour of welcoming into the EU people fleeing the war (Eurobarometer 2023).

According to the results of the research conducted by the Centre for Economic Strategy (CES), 81 per cent of Ukrainian forced migrants speak of a positive or quite positive attitude towards them from the residents of recipient countries; 30 per cent of Ukrainians believe that, over time, the attitude of locals towards them has not changed, 19 per cent believe that it has worsened and 13 per cent that it has improved, others have not decided on the answer (Mykhailyshyna, Samoiliuk and Tomilina 2023). The experts interviewed were sure that cases of biased, unfair treatment of forced migrants from Ukraine by permanent residents of recipient countries are rare and not of a systemic nature. According to these expert interviewees, the most often similar cases are recorded on the part of ethnic Russians. In particular, experts from Estonia and Finland reported on the spread of false information about the behaviour of newly arrived Ukrainians, with denials of the right to free travel and opposition to the display of Ukrainian flags. At the same time, experts also mentioned the cases of the participation of individuals from among ethnic Russians in providing aid and volunteering.

However, experts have reported facts which show that, unfortunately, not all Ukrainian migrants realise that the help from European countries and societies is a manifestation of goodwill and that the citizens of the recipient countries do not owe them anything. Some (especially affluent) forced migrants expressed dissatisfaction with the accommodation and with the response of volunteers to specific non-standard needs and wishes. However, according to the experts, the Ukrainian organisations themselves are trying to stop such manifestations. There are also cases of abuse of free travel opportunities.

There are also residents of Ukraine who are using the situation of a full-scale invasion in order to implement a previously planned work (less often, tourist) trip – a number of interviewed experts personally know such people. This is indirectly evidenced by specifities in the distribution of Ukrainian forced migrants by region of origin – in particular, an increased share of people from the western oblasts which, on the one hand, are the traditional regions of origin of labour migrants from Ukraine and, on the other, have themselves become important regions of IDP resettlement. Thus, as of the beginning of April 2022, according to the data of the 4Service Group Company (2022b), the Lviv oblast, alongside the regions of hostilities, ranked 8th among Ukrainian regions in terms of the number of forced migrants. According to the survey of Ukrainian forced migrants in the Czech Republic (Klimešová et al. 2022), the fourth place among their regions of origin is occupied by Zakarpattia Oblast – the main place of origin of pre-war Ukrainian labour migrants to the Czech Republic (ILO 2013). It is inferior only to the city of Kyiv, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk Oblasts.

According to the Centre for Economic Strategy research, 29 per cent of Ukrainian forced migrants are ‘quasi-labour migrants’, who left not only for security reasons but also to find work. These migrants are more likely to be from Western Ukraine and their decision to return will not be affected by the end of the war (Mykhailyshyna et al. 2023). According to the reports by my expert interviewees, ‘residents of Western Ukraine, who previously travelled for three months, now receive temporary protection and the official right to employment’ and ‘some Ukrainians who planned to migrate but did not take active action, were stimulated by the situation of a full-scale invasion’. Labour migrants who lived in EU countries before the war are joining their families who entered after 24 February.

To identify the problems of forced migrants from Ukraine, a points assessment was used. Experts were asked about the problems faced by forced migrants from Ukraine. The question was open, without predicting the options for answers. Each problem that was mentioned by an expert (a forced migrant from Ukraine or a representative of the recipient country) was assigned 1 point. However, if the expert defined a problem as the main one, 2 points were given; if the expert named only one problem and did not mention others, the mentioned problem received 3 points. As the final result, the following hierarchy of problems was obtained:

  1. Housing problems, the absolute leader (sum of points = 21, which is 2.6–3.5 times more than problems that occupied places 2–5 in the hierarchy). According to the experts, at the end of the summer – beginning of the autumn 2022, the possibilities of living with families of citizens of the recipient countries will run out, ‘and it is difficult and expensive to find housing on the free market’.
  2. Employment (8 points), in particular, difficulties in finding a job that corresponds to qualifications; low wages in available jobs.
  3. The problem of not knowing the language of the recipient country (7 points) is relevant for EU countries – including the Baltic countries – but is completely irrelevant for Moldova.
  4. Two problems received 6 points each. One of them is the problem of uncertainty: people do not know when and if they will be able to return home. They have a hard time deciding whether they should learn the language, get a job, send their children to school/kindergarten or, on the contrary, wait for the end of the crisis. The other problem is excessive bureaucracy and length of registration procedures, which were especially emphasised by permanent and forced temporary residents of Germany: ‘long processing time, very complicated procedures, everything in paper form’. At the same time, as the representative of Germany noted, ‘For Ukrainians, this waiting (up to several months) looks long but the Germans say that it is very fast’.

Moreover, the experts also mentioned the problems of the load on the education system in the host countries (school and preschool), homesickness, despair over the impossibility of a quick return, problems of financial support, psychological problems, access to state medicine (‘with private – no problem’) and the threat of sexual harassment (‘women received housing offers from men’).

This hierarchy of problems differs from those revealed by the migrant survey. According to one of the surveys conducted by Ukrainian sociological structure, the most acute problem for forced external migrants is financial support (Gradus Research Company 2022a). According to 4Service Group (2022a), separation from relatives and friends and homesickness are other main problems. Anxiety about what is happening in Ukraine, concern for the relatives and loved ones who remained in Ukraine, and longing for the homeland were the most often mentioned by the respondents of another survey (Razumkov Centre 2022).

Obviously, this difference is related to the fact that migrants talk about what is worrying them right now, causing the greatest emotional experiences. Experts assess the situation more carefully, including an assessment of future changes. Moreover, the interviews with experts which I conducted did not include a list of possible answers, while the respondents of sociological surveys chose from a variety of options offered.

During the interview, experts from among the representatives of the recipient countries were asked to evaluate on a 5-point scale (1 = the minimum rating, 5 = the maximum) the impact of the forced migration of Ukrainians on various local markets (food and non-food products, labour, housing, educational services, medical services, transport services). According to the experts, the impact of forced migration from Ukraine on the housing market of the host countries is the most significant (average score – 3.4 out of a possible 5). The experts note that it is almost impossible to rent an apartment in the capitals of the main recipient countries of Ukrainian forced migration – Warsaw, Berlin and Prague. The impact of forced migration caused by the Russian war against Ukraine on the markets of medical and educational services is also quite high, while the differential impact of migration from Ukraine was noted in relation to the latter – education, which is increased in the segment on teaching local languages. According to the experts, the impact of forced migration on labour markets and transport services is moderate. At the same time, the difference in the impact on the official and unofficial (so-called ‘black’) labour market was also noted: the latter was much more significantly affected by the new migration from Ukraine because Ukrainian forced migrants try to find a job without registration more often than local residents. Interviewed experts reported on the existence of cases of entrepreneurial activities initiated by forced migrants from Ukraine. This mainly concerns the provision of cosmetic services, the manufacture of souvenirs (such activities are not always officially registered), as well as the organisation of ethnic catering establishments. The reports of experts about the entrepreneurial activities of Ukrainian forced migrants are confirmed by statistical data. In particular, 10,200 sole proprietorships founded by people with Ukrainian citizenship started operating in Poland between January and September 2022. Ukrainian female entrepreneurs the most often offered hairdressing and other beauty services (Dębkowska, Kłosiewicz-Górecka, Szymańska, Wejt-Knyżewska and Zybertowicz 2022). At the same time, according to the survey of Ukrainian forced migrants in the Czech Republic (Klimešová et al. 2022), the economic potential of Ukrainian forced migrants is not used enough.

The experts’ estimates regarding the impact of the arrival of forced migrants on the food and non-food markets are the lowest. However, in particular in the Czech Republic, after the beginning of the Russian war against Ukraine, supermarkets more often began to sell buckwheat (the most popular type of cereal for Ukrainians). In general, the experts from Poland rated the impact of forced migration from Ukraine on local markets higher than did the representatives of other countries. This assessment of the impact of the forced migration of Ukrainians on local markets for goods and services reflects the opinions of the interviewed experts and does not claim to be absolute.

The full-scale war unleashed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the scale of forced migration caused by it – unprecedented since the Second World War – on the one hand are serious problems and restrictions to the development of the country; however, on the other hand, these processes have opened up previously unavailable opportunities for the formation of a positive image of Ukraine and Ukrainians in the world, especially in the countries of the European Union. Though employers in EU countries had previously perceived Ukrainian employees to be hard-working and conscientious workers, at the same time, in European societies, the perception of Ukrainian citizens as performers of low- and medium-skilled jobs prevailed (Zymnin 2021). This is due to the fact that the period of formation of labour migration from Ukraine (early and mid-1990s) was characterised by a sharp decline in the standard of living of the population, a very low level of wages and the spread of hidden unemployment. Accordingly, labour migrants from Ukraine accepted any opportunity to earn money abroad and usually performed work that required lower qualifications than they had – in particular, for example, teachers worked as caregivers, female doctors worked as nurses and men with a high level of education were employed as construction workers. Thus, according to the SSSU (2017), in 2015–2017, only a little over a quarter of Ukrainian employees had a job abroad which matched their qualifications obtained in Ukraine. Instead, more than a third of the employees worked in jobs that do not require qualifications. At the same time, a third of labour migrants had a higher education (full or basic) (SSSU 2017). During their stay in Ukraine (both before and after leaving), highly educated migrants were rarely involved in low-skilled jobs but, once abroad, were engaged in low-skilled jobs more often than persons with an average level of education (Pyrozhkov et al. 2018). By the end of the twentieth century, the contingent of wage-earners generally had stabilised and, at least up until 2014, was almost never replenished with new groups of persons. Accordingly, both the employment behaviour of labour migrants from Ukraine and the perceptions of them by the societies of the recipient countries were conserved.

It was most probably the wave of forced migration in 2022 which led to the breaking of some dominant stereotypes about Ukrainians in the recipient countries. The majority of forced external migrants are women with higher education, usually high (by Ukrainian standards) incomes and a fairly high social status in their places of origin. It is not surprising that these migrant women do not accept low-skilled work and are ready to master the language of the host country in order to increase their competitiveness in the labour market (Subotina 2022). The inclusion of Ukrainian children in the school education of the host countries showed a more-than-decent level of training and acquisition of knowledge. Notably, the French media have already written – and more than once – about the teachers’ surprise at the level of knowledge of Ukrainian children in mathematics (Le Parisien 2022). At the same time, information is spreading in the West about the speed at which weapons produced by NATO countries are being mastered by the Ukrainian military. In addition, the resettlement of a significant number of forced migrants from Ukraine in the midst of Russian aggression increases the interest of broad sections of the EU population in recent and contemporary events in Ukraine (both in the current armed struggle against a stronger enemy and in past protests against the arbitrariness of the authorities: the Revolution on Granite, the Orange Revolution and the Revolution of Dignity). In 2022, the keyword ‘Ukraine’ hit an all-time record on Google in terms of the number of searches globally – according to Brand Ukraine (2022), the two most popular characteristics of Ukraine in 2022 were ‘The nation of heroes’ and ‘Democratic country’, together representing almost half of the publications that contained reputational attributes. ‘The Member of the European Family’ attribute received a 17 per cent share, being the third most widely spread characteristic of Ukraine in the media.

All this helps to consolidate the image of Ukrainians as a freedom-loving nation, with a high level of education and qualifications and capable of acquiring new knowledge and skills. Moreover, this is realised not only by the residents of the EU countries but also by the Ukrainians themselves.

According to a survey conducted by the Gradus Research Company, forced external migrants note that, compared to the EU countries, the mentality and way of life are better in Ukraine, as is the digitalisation of public and commercial services, the level of bureaucracy in government bodies, the size of utility tariffs, the opening hours of shops, food establishments, pharmacies, the ratio of quality/cost of services in the field of beauty, the ease and convenience of connecting and replenishing a mobile phone, the speed and convenience of money transfers, the prevalence and quality of food establishments/cafes, the quality and speed of the Internet, the speed and quality of the logistics sector and of postal/courier shipments. On the other hand, compared to the EU countries, the quality of public transport work, urban infrastructure development, drinking water from the tap, the sorting and proper disposal of rubbish, the creation of special conditions for people with disabilities, social protection from the state, the rate of wages and compliance with law and order are much worse (Gradus Research Company 2022b).

The decision to return is influenced more strongly by the situation in Ukraine rather than the situation in recipient countries. According to CES research, the most important factors for the return of Ukrainian forced migrants to their home country will be security conditions: the final end of the war (51 per cent) and the cessation of hostilities and airstrikes in their native city (34 per cent); the quality of life in Ukraine – the availability of decent employment (28 per cent) and the higher level of life (21 per cent) (Mykhailyshyna et al. 2023). Factors limiting the possibilities of staying in recipient countries (expiry of temporary shelter, the lack of affordable housing abroad) are considered less significant than the cessation of hostilities in the respondents’ regions of origin and restoration of their infrastructure. However, at least some of the forced migrants are ready to return to Ukraine even if it is impossible to return to the region of their origin.

Policy recommendations

In today’s conditions, the policy of the government of Ukraine should be aimed at cooperation and maintaining relations with Ukrainians abroad. The peculiarity of the Ukrainian diaspora is that it is formed by both citizens of other countries (persons of Ukrainian origin) and citizens of Ukraine who permanently or temporary live abroad. Currently, the volume of the Ukrainian diaspora is actually increasing due to the forced external migrants. The state pays considerable attention to cooperation with the diaspora but new realities require the modernisation of the state policy regarding this.

A new direction of state cooperation with non-governmental organisations of Ukrainians abroad (primarily in EU countries) is to stimulate the participation of the latter in solving the problems of forced external migrants. Using the experience of representatives of the diaspora (both citizens of the recipient countries of Ukrainian origin and labour migrants) can facilitate the adaptation of forced external migrants to living conditions in recipient countries. In this context, it seems necessary to strengthen the capabilities of the Department for Ukrainians Worldwide and the Humanitarian Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

The fundamental problem with state policy in Ukraine regarding the diaspora is the problem of the legislative definition of this concept. There is no official definition of the term ‘diaspora’ in the Legislation of Ukraine, although the corresponding word is used in a number of normative acts. It is time to provide opportunities for Ukrainians to obtain Ukrainian citizenship without renouncing their existing citizenship of another country. The issue of the possibility of recognising multiple citizenships in Ukraine – both before the full-scale invasion and now – is being discussed in both expert and political communities.

For labour migrants and other representatives of the diaspora among Ukrainian citizens, the problem of participation in elections is significant. According to the legislation of Ukraine, a voter who lives or is on the territory of a foreign country on the day of voting can participate in the elections for the President of Ukraine but, for Verkhovna Rada (the unicameral parliament), the same voter has the right to vote in the election of deputies only, according to the nationwide electoral list (Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine 2022a). However, in fact, only persons who are on the consular register and those who, no later than five days before the elections, applied for their inclusion on the lists, can actually vote in the elections of the President and People’s Deputies of Ukraine from outside Ukraine, in diplomatic offices for voting. Citizens are faced with the need to visit consular offices twice (to submit an application and actually to vote), which often requires considerable time and money. The level of consular registration of citizens of Ukraine living abroad is low. A means of ensuring the participation of representatives of the diaspora in the elections of the President and the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine could be the implementation of a procedure for voting by correspondence.

The creation and expansion of opportunities for the participation of representatives of the diaspora (both citizens of Ukraine and non-citizens) in the life of the country will contribute to the strengthening of cooperation between the state and diasporas, which will then provide both economic and political benefits for Ukraine. As world experience shows, using the potential of diasporas is a means of strengthening the influence of the country of their origin.

The Ukrainian government should, in every possible way, maintain contact with their compatriots and develop opportunities for distance education for the children of migrants. The functioning of the International Ukrainian School (IUS), established in 2007, is a successful example of cooperation with the diaspora; currently the issue of adapting IUS activities to new realities is relevant, in particular concerning providing the children of forced migrants with opportunities to combine education in the schools in the recipient countries with distance learning according to the programme of the IUS, achieved by distributing video recordings of lessons and developing flexible performance monitoring systems. It is necessary to develop and approve procedures for the recognition of documents on the periods and content of education in order to ensure the continuation of the education of returnee migrant children in the institutions of secondary and vocational education of Ukraine.

It is necessary to provide opportunities for remote work for forced migrants who are employees of Ukrainian enterprises, institutions and organisations, whose activities do not require a direct presence in the workplace (except for work that involves access to classified information). The implementation of this measure requires solving the issue of the avoidance of double taxation in accordance with the bilateral agreements. Today, similar agreements are valid between Ukraine and almost all European countries,5 in particular all EU countries (Ministry of Finance of Ukraine 2022). The Ukrainian government should sort out this issue and, if necessary, initiate changes to the agreements. One of the interviewed forced migrants from Ukraine expressed the opinion that ‘dismissal from work can be an argument for not returning’. Moreover, these contingents of people need psychological support, which should be provided by the consular services. People should be helped to organise meetings (for example, tea parties) in consulates.

In addition, the Ukrainian government should explain to Ukrainian forced migrants (through cooperation with public organisations of Ukrainian migrants and targeted advertising in social networks) that they should learn the local language (for those who speak English, learning at least the basic phrases necessary for communication in administrative centres, shops, etc.) and understand the cancellation of free transport (the purpose of its introduction was not to facilitate travel but to provide opportunities to reach the desired location) and resettlement.

An important task for the Ukrainian state is to confirm the educational and qualification levels of Ukrainian forced migrants at their request, since not all of them were able to take their educational diplomas with them. A procedure should be set up for requests from the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine to be transmitted to the educational institutions of Ukraine and to spread information among migrants about such opportunities.

The development of strategic programmes that stimulate return should begin now – an important element of which should be the prevention of biased attitudes towards forced external migrants, thus avoiding the sharp arguments among the citizens of Ukraine regarding who was where during the war. We must realise that we are all Ukrainians.

The most acute problem is returning Ukrainian citizens deported to the territory of the aggressor country. Effective implementation of this direction of state policy requires constant interaction with international organisations and partner states. In order to increase the efficiency of the state’s actions in this area, it is advisable to create a special unit within the structure of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.

Informational support for Ukrainians abroad is an important tool for strengthening relations with both forced and labour migrants. This includes the development of a portal with information on the legislation of the recipient countries, employment conditions, activities of economic entities that provide mediation services in the employment of Ukrainian citizens abroad and the creation of information desks at diplomatic missions of Ukraine, including on public grounds (at the expense of Ukrainian communities in the respective countries).

Various countries have accumulated significant experience in successfully attracting earnings of migrants to the economy, especially on the basis of parity financing of the organisation of businesses by migrants and the state. Activation of the use of the potential of cooperation with labour migrants in the economic sphere is becoming one of the most urgent tasks of Ukraine’s post-war development policy. It is necessary to develop and adopt an appropriate programme that would be based on the achievements of world experience. It is advisable to involve in the development of the programme the representatives of businesses, trade unions, the World Congress of Ukrainians, associations of labour migrants, other interested non-governmental organisations, experts and representatives of the regions and communities the most affected by mass labour migration.

It is necessary to improve the laws and regulations of Ukraine regarding the confirmation of the results of the informal professional training of labour migrants who are returning to Ukraine. In particular, the list of labour professions whose qualification level can be confirmed based on the results of informal vocational training should be expanded and return migrants should be exempt from paying for such qualification confirmation services.

The state should maintain relations with Ukrainian students and scientists who work or undergo internships in EU countries. In particular, activities should be intensified to ensure support from the European Commission for financing (on a grant basis) joint scientific projects between the teams of Ukrainian scientific institutions and the scientific institutions of EU countries in which Ukrainian scientists work.

The ageing of the population, characteristic of all nations of European origin, inevitably leads to a reduction in the size of the labour force. In Ukraine, this process is intensified due to the large-scale departure of able-bodied citizens. Under these conditions, almost the only means of providing the labour market with workers is the attraction of immigrants. Even before the full-scale invasion by the troops of the aggressor country, Ukraine had a low level of attractiveness for citizens of other countries; however, the situation may change in the event of a successful attraction of foreign investments in the process of post-war state development.

Today, immigration policy should focus on improving the situation and facilitating the integration of those foreigners who are already in Ukraine or who will return after the end of the war. It seems appropriate to classify foreign students who are studying or have successfully completed their studies in Ukraine into the category of persons who do not need a permit to do the work of a foreigner (provided they are employed in jobs that match the profile and level of education received in Ukraine). In order to find a job, foreign graduates from Ukrainian higher education institutions should be given the opportunity to remain on the territory of Ukraine for a year after completing their studies. In addition, the right to work without a special permit should also be granted to persons in respect of whom the State Migration Service of Ukraine has made a decision to process documents to resolve the issue of recognising a person as a refugee or a person in need of additional protection.


The impact of a full-scale war on the future demographic situation in Ukraine will be reflected primarily in migration losses, which will have the greatest impact on demographic dynamics. The scale of forced migration from Ukraine is significant, although much smaller than estimates based on the uncritical use of the border-crossing statistics indicate. In fact, the lion’s share of these crossings, especially since the beginning of April 2022, can be attributed to various forms of pendulum migration. Research has confirmed that some residents of Ukraine use the situation of a full-scale invasion in order to implement a previously planned work or tourist trip.

The main problems of forced migrants from Ukraine according to experts’ interviews and surveys with migrants are long-term housing, finding a suitable job, learning the language, financial support, separation from the relatives and friends, homesickness and anxiety about what is happening in Ukraine. Ukrainians continue to enlist the support of the local population of European countries, despite the widespread sentiments of fatigue following the flows of migration from Ukraine.

Migration policy during the war period and immediately after its end should be aimed at reducing the volume of migration losses, improving the situation of forced external migrants, providing the economy with a labour force during the post-war revival of Ukraine and maximising the use of the results of migration in the interests of development. Since women of childbearing age and children predominate among those Ukrainians who left for European countries, the question of the post-war return of compatriots is perhaps the most important in the context of the preservation of the Ukrainian nation and national security.

The development and implementation of measures aimed at attracting foreign citizens to Ukraine is not timely right now and should be carried out only in the process of post-war revival. However, it is already necessary to contribute to the improvement of the situation of those foreigners who remained in Ukraine or who plan to return after the end of the war (chiefly, foreign students).


This publication was prepared with a support grant from the Kennan Institute of the Wilson Center, Washington, D.C. The statements and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily those of the Wilson Center.

Conflict of interest statement

No conflict of interest was reported by the author.


Oleksii Pozniak


  1. According to the official terminology of the Ukrainian Government.
  2. PESEL in Poland (Powszechny Elektroniczny System Ewidencji Ludności) is the universal number of the general electronic system of population registration.
  3. The author considers Europe as a political rather than a geographical concept. The countries of the south Caucasus and Turkey are recognised as European countries because they are members of the Council of Europe.
  4. According to the original terminology – Refugees from Ukraine registered for Temporary Protection or similar national protection schemes in Europe.
  5. Except Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lichtenstein and Kosovo (which is not recognised by Ukraine).


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Annex 1

Table A1. The list of interviewed experts

* Regions are specified only for Ukraine.

** If the two places of residence are different.

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