Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs César Montaño said Monday that Ecuadorians living in Russia are not in “imminent danger” and the Ministry is not advising them to leave. “At this time, we believe our citizens in Russia are safe and we are suggesting they remain in place,” he said. “It is also our advice that they remain vigilant due to the changing situation in Ukraine.”
The Ministry said it does not know how many Ecuadorians are in Russia but says it is more than the number in Ukraine when Russia launched its invasion. It estimates there were 1,500 in Ukraine, about 800 of them university students.
Acknowledging that European Union countries and the U.S. have recommended their citizens leave Russia, Montaño said the Foreign Ministry is monitoring the situation carefully and is in close contact with its diplomats in Moscow. “Our consulars tell us there is currently no physical danger to residents of Russia. There have been no military attacks by Ukraine. On the other hand, we understand there is serious disruption of business and financial services due to the sanctions imposed by world governments.”
Ecuadorian Melanie Benavides, 21, a student at Rostov State Medical University, confirms the government assessment. “We’re not able to make bank withdrawals and our credit cards have been deactivated but we can still receive money through Western Union and other services,” she said. “Otherwise, most things are normal in Rostov. There is food in the markets and there are no soldiers in the streets.”
Benavides, in her sixth semester of medical school, said she has no plans to leave Russia. “The education here is excellent and much cheaper than at a private university in Ecuador, and it is my intention to continue my studies. There are four other Ecuadorians at the university and they feel the same way,” she said. “The university is operating normally with no disruptions.”
She added that she has received no communication from the Ecuadorian embassy in Moscow.