The U.N. refugee agency has said that more than 677,000 people, most of them women and children, had fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since Thursday. It said it expects 4 million people could eventually flee Ukraine.

The EU Commission announced Wednesday it would give temporary residence permits to the refugees, pending approval by member states.

Ukrainian nationals and those with permanent residency would be allowed to live, work and seek an education in EU countries. The same would apply for non-Ukrainians fleeing the country who cannot safely return to their country of origin. The program would not extend the rights to those with short-term approval to live in Ukraine who can return to their country of origin.

“All those fleeing Putin’s bombs are welcome in Europe,” EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “We will provide protection to those seeking shelter and we will help those looking for a safe way home.”

More than half of those fleeing Ukraine have gone to Poland, where Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said his country is helping “all the people fleeing from war, all the war refugees regardless of their country of origin.”

“We are treating everyone with dignity and in an equal manner because this is the only way how it should be,” he told reporters.

Putin “badly miscalculated” invasion of Ukraine: Joe Biden


US President Joe Biden delivers his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, March 1, 2022, in Washington.

U.S. President Joe Biden said late Tuesday Russian leader Vladimir Putin “badly miscalculated” in his invasion and the thought that he could make the free world “bend to his menacing ways.”

Biden used the beginning of his State of the Union address to the nation to express support for Ukraine and outline the widespread, unified response from Ukrainian allies that has included sending weapons and aid to Ukraine and imposing strong economic sanctions against Russia.

“Putin may circle Kyiv with tanks, but he will never gain the hearts and souls of the Ukrainian people,” Biden said. “He will never extinguish their love of freedom. He will never, never weaken the resolve of the free world.”

Biden announced the closing of U.S. air space to all Russian flights and said the U.S. Justice Department is forming a special task force “to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs.”

He reiterated that the United States will not be sending troops to fight in Ukraine, while stating that NATO allies would “defend every inch” of territory in member states.

“The Ukrainians are fighting back with pure courage, but the next few days, weeks and months will be hard on them,” Biden said. “Putin has unleashed violence and chaos, but while he may make gains on the battlefield, he will pay a continuing high price over the long run.”

Among the audience in the U.S. Capitol was Ukraine Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova. Many of the lawmakers in attendance wore forms of yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, to show their support.

A U.S. defense official told reporters Tuesday that despite instances of Russian forces in some areas being slowed by logistical problems, the Russian military still has significant combat resources that have not yet been utilized in Ukraine.

The official said the U.S. assesses that since the invasion began last Thursday, Russia has launched more than 400 missiles, and that Ukraine’s air and missile defense systems remain viable.