Western insiders reportedly told CNN that US and European officials have been discussing how the West would back a government-in-exile led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky if he had to escape Kyiv.
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The discussions have ranged from assisting Zelensky and top Ukrainian officials in relocating to Lviv in western Ukraine to the prospect that Zelensky and his aides are forced to quit Ukraine entirely and establish a new government in Poland, according to the authorities.
According to the sources, the negotiations are still early and no decisions have been taken.
Western officials have also been leery of directly discussing a government-in-exile with Zelensky since he wants to stay in Kyiv and has so far rejected conversations that focus on anything other than bolstering Ukraine’s struggle against Russia, according to two western diplomats.
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They also stated that there have been discussions about moving one or more members of Zelensky’s administration to an external place where a government could be established in the event that Kyiv falls and Zelensky is reluctant or unable to flee.
“The Ukrainians have plans in place that I’m not going to talk about or get into any detail about to make sure that there is continuity of government one way or another, and I’m going to leave it at that,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CBS on Sunday.
In the early days of the war, US and European authorities believed that Zelensky going to Lviv was a possibility because it was unclear whether Russia would target western Ukraine. But, given Russia’s massive escalation against civilian targets across Ukraine in recent days, they are less certain that Russia will spare any inch of Ukrainian land.
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Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last month, approximately one million people have been cleared to pass the Polish border from Ukraine, according to the Polish Border Patrol.
The Polish Border Guards announced in a tweet on Sunday that “already 964 thousand people fleeing from Ukraine to Poland have been cleared at border crossings.”
According to the Polish Permanent Representation to the European Union, a record number of around 129,000 refugees crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border on Saturday alone.