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10,000 immigrant from ex-Soviet Union arrives in Israel since Russia invaded Ukraine

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's religions and Diaspora affairs correspondent.

Sasha Zlobjn, the 10,000th person to immigrate to Israel since Russia invaded his native Ukraine, stands in Ben Gurion Airport shortly after landing on March 28, 2022. (Immigration and Absorption Ministry)
Sasha Zlobjn, the 10,000th person to immigrate to Israel since Russia invaded his native Ukraine, stands in Ben Gurion Airport shortly after landing on March 28, 2022. (Immigration and Absorption Ministry)

Sasha Zlobjn from Kharkiv, Ukraine, is the 10,000th person to immigrate to Israel from the former Soviet Union since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, the Immigration and Absorption Ministry says.

Zlobjn arrived in Israel with his grandparents earlier today on a flight with dozens of other Ukrainian refugees, fleeing the brutal flighting in their country.

“I fled Kharkiv with my grandmother and grandfather, but unfortunately my parents stayed there. It was an exhausting trip that ended with this nice reception,” Zlobjn tells immigration officials, according to the ministry.

More than two-thirds of the 10,000 people who have immigrated to Israel in the past month have come from Ukraine, according to the ministry. The rest have come from Russia and Belarus. As the government considers all of these immigrants from the former Soviet Union as fleeing humanitarian crises — the war in Ukraine and increased repression in Russia and Belarus — the ministry has taken to lumping all of them in one group for the purposes of its statistics.

Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata hails the massive wave of migration from Ukraine, but acknowledges that it is driven by “difficult circumstances.”

“The State of Israel sees this as its hour of need, and there is great national and governmental enlistment in the absorption of immigrants,” Tamano-Shata says.

Israeli officials have estimated that tens of thousands of people from Ukraine, Russia and Belarus will immigrate to Israel in the coming weeks and months in light of the war.

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