‘Tears of desperation’ for Ukrainians in the UK as Russia invades

Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn said he was ‘distraught’ when he woke on Thursday morning and saw the news.

24 February 2022

The chairman of a Ukrainian association in the UK said there were “tears of desperation” following the news Russia had invaded Ukraine.

Yaroslaw Tymchyshyn, chairman of the Bolton branch of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), said he was “distraught” when he woke up on Thursday morning and saw the news.

He said: “Many, many years ago we demonstrated outside the Russian Embassy when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union to get the Russians out.

“We’re now having to do this again. I never ever suspected in my lifetime, especially after 1991, that this would happen again.

“I was in Ukraine on August 24, 1991 when Ukraine was declared independent. When that news filtered through it was tears of joy, this morning it is tears of desperation.”

Mr Tymchyshyn, 68, said he had attempted to contact one of his cousins living in Ukraine on Thursday morning but had been unable to get through.

He said: “She’s not online and I fear for the worst. I just don’t know what’s going to happen.

“On my wife’s side, I have not even had time to think about looking to see if they are online.

“That said, I spoke to them on Sunday morning and one of my brother-in-laws actually said ‘don’t worry, the machine gun is on the wall ready’.

“That is the attitude of most Ukrainians, we’re not going to give up this lightly.

“We’re not going to give up 30 years of independence for a remodel of Hitler.”

He said he believed the invasion could lead to the “largest humanitarian disaster this side of the Second World War”.

He said a GoFundMe page had been set up by the AUGB and branches across the country would accept donations to help with medical care.

Mr Tymchyshyn said he believed the invasion would have impact across the world because of the crops which are grown in Ukraine and exported to other countries, including Yemen.

He said: “If anyone thinks this is just going to have repercussions in Europe, can I suggest they think again.”

He also called for people to boycott Russian goods and for Russian teams to be banned from participating in sport, as well as for more sanctions to be imposed on the country.

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