A Ukrainian man living in Bristol says the past week has been ‘the longest, most awful time of my life’ as Russia advances towards Kyiv where his terrified family are lying in wait.
Dmytro Iurikov’s elderly parents are hiding out in a bomb shelter, while his 94-year-old grandmother has barricaded herself in her bathroom with Russian troops now on the outskirts of the capital city.
Mr Iurikov, a project engineering manager who has been in the UK for 10 years, says he feels ‘helpless’ most days and does whatever he can to keep his family’s spirits up by trying to send them letters and drawings from his two young children.
He told BristolWorld: “It’s terrible and frightening, but more so than that, make no mistake that this is a crime against humanity.
“My family are trying to be strong, because there’s nothing else left to do, as the cities come under attack from Russian missiles.
“I try to stay away from the most harrowing news where I can, because I’m so angry. Myself, my wife and my children try to distract ourselves.
“Otherwise you’ll go mad. I’m very lucky to have had support my colleagues. ‘Speak up’ culture is very important.”
Mr Iurikov says he’s been touched by the response of Bristol people, Ukraine border as war rages on">who have been gathering supplies for volunteers to transport into Ukraine, such as at Emersons Green.
There are several schemes underway across the city, with people donating food, clothes, nappies, batteries and first aid kits among other essentials.
And last night (March 3), hundreds in the city turned out at for a Bristol Solidarity with Ukraine demo, with demonstrators holding Ukrainian flags and signs with messages of support.
The International Criminal Court opened an investigation on Wednesday night after Britain and 37 allies referred Russia over what the Prime Minister described as “abhorrent” attacks.
Back in Bristol, Mr Iurikov has been trying to spread the message from the Ukrainian people where he can, and this week gave an interview to BBC Radio 5.
He said: “Russia will not stop. For a month they claimed this was a minimal military exercise, now there is a war.
“Ukraine must stay an independent state. If it doesn’t, there is nothing to stop Russia moving on to other small countries like Georgia and Moldova.
“I’m grateful to the British people for their support, and have been taking inspiration from pictures of them in air raid shelters during the 1940s. You’ll see that in many of those pictures, people are smiling, keeping up morale.
“Even though they’ve been fighting for a week without a break and under immense pressure, the people of Ukraine are smiling too, because they’re on their own land and they know that they are never going to surrender.”