The world must see Russian President Vladimir Putin’s military attacks on the civilians of Ukraine and he must pay for his actions, says Ukrainian and Broadstairs resident Vasyl Slobodyan.
Vasyl, who lives in the town with his wife Viktoria, says civilians are under attack in their homes, in schools and in train stations.
Cloud engineer Vasyl, 29, has a grandmother, uncle and cousins in the country. He is lucky that his parents and younger brother Volodymyr are in the UK but Viktoria has immediate family – parents and sister – in Ukraine and both have many friends who are living amidst the conflict.
For now many of those family members are not in direct line of the Russian offensive as they are based in Ternopil in the west of the country.
But others are amidst the fighting, with some needing to flee but many, like Viktoria’s mum and sister, refusing to be driven out.
Vasyl said: “Our family is based in the west at Ternopil, which is very beautiful. If you say they need to leave, they are not that sort of people. My wife’s sister will not leave and her mum is a nurse so needs to be there to help. The people who are leaving Ukraine are women and children.
“My cousin was in Kyiv and I was talking to her on the first day and there were explosions just a couple of miles away from them. She decided to leave because she is pregnant and it is not safe.
“I have a lot of friends there who will not leave. Some are in Kharkiv which is a very heavily attacked area, my friends had a piece of artillery shell outside their block of flats.”
Vasyl, Viktoria and his mum Iryna were among the thousands of people to take part in a Stand With Ukraine demonstration in London last weekend.
Ukrainians and people of many other nationalities including Russians, gathered at Downing Street and others were outside the Russian embassy in Kensington Palace Gardens on Saturday while on Sunday another large gathering took place in Trafalgar Square.
The show of solidarity was also a bid to urge government to continue increasing sanctions against Russia and to take more action to help Ukrainian refugees.
Some one million people have now fled from Ukraine as Russian military action continues with the vast majority crossing into Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary and Moldova. Smaller numbers have gone to Russia and Belarus.
Vasyl says the show of support is important, adding: “It is trying to get attention from government but the biggest thing is showing people back home that everyone supports them.
“I am not military but I will do anything I can to help using the skills I have and we must all use our best skills.
“People here (in the UK) have been showing support with donations of money or clothes, it does not need to be a big amount – £10 here is maybe a couple of drinks but at home £1 is roughly 40 UAH so it is worth quite a lot more over there and that can be used to buy food, equipment and other things.
“And there is emotional support, a lot of people need a lot of that, as it is hard to cope at this time. Reaching out to someone who you know is impacted and talking to them is quite a good way to make sure they are safe and sound, even if they are not fighting or taking part in the war as such.
“The UK can use sanctions, this is the best alternative without starting World War 3. On top of that ammunition support and other military vehicles support to help Ukrainian people so they can resist and withstand the attack from Russia.
“The world needs to see that Putin’s military is attacking civilians in their homes and train stations while trying to flee and other places. That is not right, he should be put to tribunal and have to pay for everything he has done.
“We live in the 21st century in a time with technology, I do not understand why this (war) is being resorted to.”
Vasyl is also urging people to make sure they are informed through reputable sources to understand the situation in Ukraine.
His brother Volodymyr, a 27-year-old building developer and talented chef, says he is horrified at the conflict, Russia’s taking of Chernobyl and the nuclear threat.
He said: “This war is about one man’s ego. We are fighting for our freedom and our country, we will not be a Crimea (invaded by Russia in 2014 and subsequently annexed).”
Human rights organisation Amnesty International has documented attacks in Kharkiv that have killed at least nine civilians, including children, that took place at the same time as talks between Ukraine and Russia in Belarus.
The organisation has labelled these killings as possible war crimes.
A second round of talks takes place today (March 3) but Ukraine says there can be no resolution unless there is an immediate ceasefire.
In a video Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says his country’s defence lines are holding. The assault on Kyiv is said to be hampered by Ukrainian defence.
It is reported that the international criminal court (ICC) confirmed it is opening an investigation into possible war crimes and has started collecting evidence.
Humanitarian aid from Manston?
It has been reported that Manston could be cleared for humanitarian – cargo out – flights.
Airport site owner RSP says at the request of North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale, it has offered to make Manston available to the UK Government to facilitate refugee relief flights from Ukraine into the UK. The airport is providing a collection point for relief agencies collecting vital medical supplies and equipment bound for Ukraine.
Tony Freudmann, director of RSP, said: “With the provision of fire services and the sweeping of the runway to ready it for relief flights, Manston could carry vital medical food and medical supplies to Polish Border towns receiving refugees and bring back women and children, either pre-cleared, or for clearance at the Manston Barracks site. We stand ready to support the UK’s relief efforts to support the people of Ukraine, at this desperately awful time.”
From Monday, March 7 the green warehouse on Spitfire Way will be used for goods being taken out to Ukraine.
Volunteers are needed for sorting, collating, packing and loading. The effort is being coordinated by Charlie Cawsey of Type One Style. Tables, chairs, water, scissors, parcel tape etc are also needed. (UPDATE: Please do not turn up if you are not already on the list).
Type One Style are organising medical supply distribution efforts to Ukraine. They have aggregated over £120,000 of supplies and have much more coming. They are working directly with the Ukrainian government and a network of volunteers inside Ukraine that they have built using digital platforms.
They need people to help with the organising and unloading of medical supplies to get them to Ukraine and border regions promptly, and to catalogue and organise the supplies they have to ensure the right people get the right medicines at the right time. Full time volunteers needed but part time and flexi time manual handlers also desperately needed.
The most effective way is cash donation to the Disaster Emergency Committee which works with member charities and local partners operating on the ground in Ukraine and western border countries