The hero sister of a Ukrainian man living in Market Harborough is risking her life to supply terrified people with food and water in a city besieged by huge Russian forces in Ukraine.
Oleksii, 41, said his 34-year-old sister is facing serious danger around the clock as their home city of Chernihiv comes under devastating attack from Russian warplanes and army units.
Dozens of men, women and children have been killed in the key strategic city to the north-west of under-fire capital Kyiv after a massive tower block was destroyed by bombs.
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Talking to the Harborough Mail this evening, Oleksii said: “My sister is risking her life to help people and families in the city.
“She’s delivering food and water to people in Chernihiv every day.
“She’s doing so well helping to keep those poor people alive in such terrible conditions,” said Oleksii, who’s lived in Market Harborough for two years.
“The city I grew up in has become a terrible warzone.
“I started telling my sister last October to start stockpiling food and water because I feared that war was coming.
“She found it hard to believe at the time.
“But she’s thanking me now because very sadly I have been proved right,” said Oleksii, who also has two brothers as well as many other loved ones still in Ukraine.
“I try to talk to my sister in Chernihiv every day.
“Of course, I am very worried for her.
“A Russian warplane bombing my home city was shot down yesterday and the pilot was killed.
“Russian gunship helicopters have been attacking it too.
“It is terrifying.
“I have a brother living in Chernihiv and a brother in Kyiv.
“They are not soldiers but they are taking up arms to join many other people over there fighting Russian forces,” said Oleksii, whose two young children here attend schools in Market Harborough.
“This is why Vladimir Putin and all of his Russian military power will never win.
“We are Ukrainians – we will never surrender.
“We will keep fighting, we will never give up.”
Earlier this week the proud Ukrainian patriot told the Mail that the UK and the West has to act now to stop Putin – who is now being investigated for alleged war crimes - in his tracks.
“If the British government, America and NATO do not unite to go toe to toe and head to head with Putin he will come here for us next.
“He is a classic bully.
“Putin understands only one thing – force,” said Oleksii, who moved to the UK 10 years ago.
“I appeal to Boris Johnson to send even just 10 warplanes to Ukraine right now.
“We have got to close the airspace over my country.
“We have got to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine now,” insisted Oleksii, a lorry driver married to Naomi.
“I’m sure that if Winston Churchill was Prime Minister now he wouldn’t hesitate – he’d go straight to war with Putin if he had to.
“Stop Putin’s planes, missiles, rockets and cluster bombs killing my poor people and our children.
“The British people have got to stand up to the government here and demand military action and support now for my people.
“Putin’s got away with invading Georgia and stealing the Crimea from Ukraine over the last few years.
“He can’t be allowed to get away with invading Ukraine, killing thousands of innocent civilians and devastating our beloved country.”
Oleksii is also mounting an urgent appeal in Harborough to collect vital supplies for Ukrainian refugees.
He is being backed up by Market Harborough’s five Anglican churches.
Oleksii is asking for sleeping bags, tents, camping mats, bottles of water (5 litre), non-perishable food (pasta/rice, tins with ring pulls), nappies/wipes, toothpaste/toothbrushes, sanitary products, antibacterial wipes and bandages.
If you would like to support him there will be a collection point at each church after this Sunday’s multiple services (March 6).
You can also deliver your items to St Dionysius Church on Market Harborough’s High Street and leave them in the left-hand balcony (kitchen side) or contact Jo Grant on 07974 296727.
Oleksii aims to travel to the Ukrainian border next Friday (March 11) so please donate any items by next Wednesday (March 9).
He is planning to ferry the supplies on the 3,000-mile round journey by car.
But please get in touch with Jo if you can lend him a van to make the gruelling trip deep into eastern Europe.
And this is a special prayer local Anglican churches are saying for Ukraine: “As we watch the devastation and aggression unfold in Ukraine, we are invited to continue to hold the people of Ukraine and Russia in our prayers.
“Sometimes at such times it can be hard to know how to pray, so if helpful here are four specific ways you may wish to pray:
That God would raise up the peacemakers and a desire for peace
For those facing death, fear and terror would know God is close
For wisdom and courage for the leaders of the nations
That tyrants, oppressors and warmongers would know there will be a day when they face the judgement and justice of God.”
If you would like to express your solidarity with the Ukrainian community in the UK, you can send an email to Father Mykola Matwijiwskyj, Dean of the Ukrainian Cathedral in London, who will share your notes with his people.
His email is [email protected]
The local Anglican church community has also written to Father Matwijiwskyj to send him their “love and prayers”.