Russia's invasion of Ukraine: As Vladimir Putin's forces threaten a horrific new assault on Kyiv, the West must do more to help Ukraine – Steve Cardownie
Tanya and her two boys, aged seven and nine, are forced to take refuge in a basement every night after calling friends and family to check on their welfare.
They emerge in the morning to face the daunting prospect that she and her sons could become the latest civilian casualties with the very real danger that a missile strike could end their lives at any moment.
My wife, Nataliya, is a Ukrainian national with British citizenship who has immediate family members living in Vasylkiv, a small town 20 miles outside the capital and who refuses to go to sleep at night until she is sure that they are all still safe.
Her brother, Jenja, who visited Edinburgh several years ago, keeps her up to date with the news. Married with a nine-year-old daughter and nine-month-old son, he too is fearful of what the future may hold.
Like Tanya, he has spent the last six nights with his family in a cellar, crudely built to store vegetable produce over the winter (like so many in Ukraine) and so cramped that there is not even enough space to lie flat, as he strives to take every available precaution in an effort to safeguard his loved ones.
Last week an oil storage depot in Vasylkiv was hit by Russian missiles, causing a huge inferno that sent up a plume of toxic fumes which forced the townsfolk to stay inside and close all their windows and doors.
Jenja desperately wants to get his wife and family to safety in the West but cannot get them to the border with Poland at the moment because the situation is so fraught with danger.
As soon as matters improve, however, he hopes that they will be allowed to come to Edinburgh, but until such times as the UK government relaxes its inhumane visa restrictions that will not be possible.
European Union countries have opened up their borders to Ukrainians fleeing their war-torn country, but so far the UK government has refused to follow suit, citing the ridiculous excuse that extremists might take advantage of a relaxation of the rules.
I have visited Edinburgh’s twin city of Kyiv on many occasions and it is heart-breaking to see what that city and the rest of the country is going through at the hands of Vladimir Putin.
A recent opinion poll in Russia determined that 60 per cent opposed this war – a war started by a power-mad despot with a warped view of former times and a naked ambition to write himself into the history books.
At the time of writing, it seems that Kyiv is about to suffer even more deprivations and attacks at the hands of the Russian invaders but all indications are that Ukraine will continue to resist this illegal occupation of their country as its armed forces and citizens fight on.
The West owes them a debt of gratitude – the West owes them greater assistance!
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