Tens of thousands of Ukrainians are pouring towards neighbouring countries to flee the Russian invasion.

In the three days since the invasion began, more than 115,000 have crossed into Poland alone – some travelling for more than two days, others joining queues 15km (10 miles) long at border points.

Those fleeing are mostly women and children, as all Ukrainian men aged 18 to 60 are being told to stay and fight – in some cases separated from their families. BBC correspondents met them at the borders.

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Ana at Palanka-Maiaky-Udobne border crossing between Moldova and Ukraine
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Ana had to leave her husband behind in Ukraine
24-hour queue
By Lucy Williamson, Palanca, Moldova

Seen from the Moldovan border, Ukraine is a nation of women. Mothers and grandmothers, wheeling suitcases to safety, leading their children into the unknown.

Ana arrived at the Palanca crossing point after more than 24 hours waiting in a queue on the Ukrainian side of the border – her little yellow car stuffed with bags, her six-year-old granddaughter singing to herself in the backseat.

Ana and her stepdaughter had driven straight from the southern city of Odesa – some 50km away and now a key target for Russia in the war.

But Ana’s calm smiling manner crumbled as soon as she began to speak. Breaking down in tears, she described how she’d had to leave her husband behind to defend their country.

“I hope the West will help us get out of this terrible situation, because right now we’re facing the Russian aggressor alone.”

Around her, local volunteers from Moldova’s towns and villages waited to offer lifts to Ukrainians arriving here on foot.

But, like Ana, many who turn up here have thought only of escaping Ukraine, and have little idea of what happens now – for their country or themselves.

Tea, coffee and guidance at makeshift stalls at the Ukraine-Moldova border
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Tea, coffee and guidance at makeshift stalls at the Ukraine-Moldova border
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No men allowed
By Mark Lowen, Przemysl, Poland

The overnight train from Kyiv, via Lviv, pulled in carrying Europe’s new refugees. They arrived at the 19th Century train station at Przemysl, which is now a modern-day reception centre.

Kateryna Leontieva
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Kateryna Leontieva’s journey was long – her return to Ukraine could be a lot longer
“It took us 52 hours to get here,” said Kateryna Leontieva, who had travelled from Kharkiv with her teenage daughter. Clutching their Ukrainian passports, and carrying a rucksack of belongings, they stepped out into eastern Poland – and safety.

When I asked how it felt to be here, Kateryna welled up with emotion. “I don’t know yet – the tears are just coming,” she said. “I didn’t feel anything – but now I’m starting to realise. I hope it’s just a short trip and we’ll be back soon.”

In the waiting room, we found Irene and her two young children. Her husband had remained in Lviv to defend their homeland.

“Only women and children are allowed to go,” she said. “The men want to stay, fight, and give blood. They are heroes.”

How did she feel about her husband staying behind, I asked?

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