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Refugees fleeing into Russia from Ukraine fighting

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Ukrainians depart buses taking them from areas of fighting in eastern Ukraine to Russian-run centers for refugees. (Source: CNN) Ukrainians depart buses taking them from areas of fighting in eastern Ukraine to Russian-run centers for refugees. (Source: CNN)
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RUSSIA-UKRAINIAN BORDER (CNN) - In Russia, the Kremlin says almost half-a-million Ukrainians have fled to Russia because of Ukraine's military operations.

At a processing camp near Russia's border, Ukrainians said they left their homeland and feel they can never return.

The Russian government wanted international journalists to see the situation.

It's usually a highly restricted location.

A checkpoint on the Ukrainian border which guards say has come under repeated attack.

They say gunfire and artillery from Ukraine tore up the ground and buildings in recent days.

The section of the border is now closed.

If you cross the border and  keep heading down a road you can get to Donetsk and Luhansk, some of the few remaining urban centers where militants are now holding out against the Ukrainian military.

Russian officials say since that Ukrainian government military operation has started to gain momentum and take back big chunks of territory from the militants, it's had a dramatic effect on the number of Ukrainian refugees crossing the border into Russia.

There are new arrivals, people who have fled their homes in eastern Ukraine, their lives now packed into whatever bags they can carry.

Among them, Elena, her daughter Anya and their dog.

Elena says they fled the fighting, the explosions, planes and tanks which terrified her daughter.

They have a new home where they'll stay for the next few days.

A government-run processing center near the Ukrainian border.

It's pretty basic but the people are grateful.

They say it's peaceful and safe for their children.

A place to reflect on the dramatic events that have changed their lives.

Everyone at the center blames the Ukrainian government.

One woman shows what she says are fragments she collected in her yard from shells fired by the Ukrainian military.

The crying women believe the Ukrainian government has no regard for their lives.

"For what? Why are we suffering?" she asks.

People also were leaving the camp.

Their fear of their homeland is so great they've decided to accept asylum and a job offer in Russia's remote Arctic region.

Natalya says, “I probably won't return to Ukraine because I can't see a future for my children there. They broke our lives."

Officials here say almost half a million Ukrainians are now sheltering in Russia.

The government along Russia’s border believes much of the international community is neglecting the suffering of the people fleeing the fighting.

But western countries believe it's Russia that could do more to stop the violence the people are trying to escape.

Copyright 2014 CNN. All rights reserved.

 

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