The government yesterday said it would help Taiwanese in Ukraine leave the country as soon as possible after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the commencement of military operations against Ukraine earlier in the day.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman (MOFA) Joanne Ou (歐江安) said that although Taiwan does not have an office in Ukraine, the representative offices in Russia and Poland are in contact with the 33 Taiwanese known to be in the country.
As Ukrainian airspace has been closed to civilian flights following the Russian attack, Ou said that Taiwan is helping those who wish to leave Ukraine to do so by land.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuan, Taipei Times
If leaving is not an option, those who remain in the east European nation are strongly advised to travel to Lviv in western Ukraine, farther from the conflict zone, she added.
In the event of an emergency, they can call Taiwan’s office in Poland (+48-668-027-574) or its office in Moscow (+7-969-008-6111) for assistance, the ministry said.
Taiwanese who plan to travel to Lviv or are already there should contact the Taiwan Trade Center in Kyiv, which is run by the Taiwan External Trade Development Council, at +380-44-537-0982, it said.
In a televised address yesterday morning, Putin announced the launch of a “special military operation” to achieve the “demilitarization and de-Nazification of Ukraine,” effectively launching a full invasion of the country.
Condemning the move, Taiwan accused Moscow of “changing the status quo.”
The government encourages the two countries to use peaceful means to resolve the dispute, Ou said, adding that Taiwan is willing to contribute to any de-escalation efforts.
Nine of the 33 Taiwanese in Ukraine are students, the Ministry of Education said.
Seven are in Kyiv, one is in the east of the country and another is in the south, it said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of National Defense said that it is monitoring military activities across the Taiwan Strait and is on high alert.
Ministry spokesman Major General Shih Shun-wen (史順文) said that the armed forces have stepped up joint intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance efforts to monitor the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas.
Strategic reserve forces are on high alert, potential threats are being monitored and immediate response action plans have been augmented, he said.
Shih made the comments a day after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) ordered the armed forces to increase surveillance, remain alert for military activity in the region and strengthen combat readiness as tensions between Russia and Ukraine grow.
Additional reporting by Aaron Tu
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