Today is the one-year anniversary of Russia’s brutal, unprovoked, full-scale invasion of Ukraine. To mark the occasion, Kyiv Post has collected 17 stories to try and convey the breadth and scale of the loss caused to Ukrainians caused by the Kremlin’s aggression.
I met my friends Ihor and Victoria Ruzhak in Trafalgar Square last year, reporting on one of the first demonstrations in London, against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale war in Ukraine.
As we spoke, I asked them both how they were dealing with the situation. “Look at my wife’s hands,” said Ihor, “they’re shaking with nerves.”
“I’m on medication - taking Valium,” said 60-year-old Victoria . “We are both stressed to the limit with what’s going on in Ukraine.”
With bombs raining down on Ukraine and Russian troops closing in on Kyiv, Victoria said there was a rush to get her and her husband’s family out to safer ground, which at that time was Lviv in western Ukraine.
“My 84-year-old auntie in Kyiv had survived the bombing of the Nazis, and now she has been forced to live through this,” said Victoria.
“When the war started, my daughter and son-in-law took her to Lviv where she was left to be looked after by her granddaughter.
“The first two weeks were the most stressful for us,” said Victoria. “From then our doctor put both my husband and I on blood pressure tablets.
“With the first anniversary coming up, we are expecting more attacks from Russia and are fearful that, if troops come from Belarus, our families in Lviv will not be safe.”
As we speak, I notice Victoria’s stress level rise as she talks about how, before the war, her and husband Ihor, 66, living in London since 1996, met a lovely Ukrainian family in Bulgaria while on holiday.
“The family have three lovely daughters. I need to find a sponsor for them and both parents,” said Victoria. “They are our future and I want to save them from the trauma of war.”
“They live on the ninth floor of an apartment block in Kyiv and every time the sirens go off, they have to rush down the stairs as it is not safe to use the lift.”
Victoria and her husband put up a family from Kharkiv when the war started but they have since returned home. Their home is not big enough to accommodate a family of five.
Their anxiety levels are high but they pray that Ukraine will win the war against Putin’s forces and they look forward to the day when they can come off their medication.
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