Ukraine-Russia war: My sister-in-law and her children are about to risk their lives on the journey to Poland as her husband and his brother stay behind to fight – Steve Cardownie
Her husband Jenja is prohibited from going with them so the perilous journey will be undertaken alone and Jenja will have to say his goodbyes in Vasylkiv.
He has been encouraged by the Ukrainian government to join the armed forces where his brother Sasha serves, ready to defend the city. Sasha has already had a shrapnel wound to his head but he is determined to do his best to repel the Russian enemy.
As Russian missiles hit the outskirts of Kyiv, it is getting more dangerous by the day and Jenja and Katya are aware that the time is fast approaching when “it is now or never”.
We also asked my mother-in-law and father-in-law if they would like to escape but they both said that “this is the land of my birth and it will be the land of my death”, a sentiment shared by many Ukrainians, particularly of the older generation.
For the younger generation in the country, the Ukrainian authorities have re-introduced online learning in an effort to re-introduce some kind of normality for children and to take their minds off the war. It has been enthusiastically welcomed by hard-pressed parents.
As for my relatives, now we are going through the tortuous process of arranging an appointment at a UK visa centre in Poland where Katya and her kids are going to apply to come to the UK – a process my wife Nataliya, a Ukrainian national with British citizenship, has described as “insane”.
Given that they do not speak English, it is inevitably going to be extremely difficult but for the sake of her children she is willing to try.
As I write this, on yesterday morning, they have had to rush down to the basement for some shelter as missiles explode above them and all the while the UK Government dithers and delays instead of offering Ukrainians the sanctuary they need and, what's more, deserve.
Sasha told us yesterday that morale within the Ukrainian armed forces was high as personnel keep their spirits up by laughing and joking with each other.
He said that the Russian forces will not succeed as he and his comrades will fight to the last along with volunteers and the militia.
Anti-tank defences and Molotov cocktails have been prepared, ready to be used if and when necessary and although Sasha hopes that that day will never come, he and his comrades are ready to use whatever means they have at their disposal to defend the city.
It is heart-breaking to witness the brutality visited upon the Ukrainian population at the behest of Putin.
When I asked Sasha what he would like to say to Putin, he said that he would let his Kalashnikov do the talking!
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