A Ukrainian dad living in Market Harborough is calling for the UK to take military action to help end the war in Ukraine as he accused Russian forces of carrying out “genocide” against his people.
Devastated Oleksii, 41, said Britain, America and NATO have got to act now amid growing fears that thousands of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children have already been killed.
The father-of-three is making his powerful plea to the Harborough Mail after he ferried a vanload of critical aid to the Polish border to support his desperate under-fire compatriots in Ukraine.
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“I am urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson, President Joe Biden and the West to do more to get behind us now.
“We have already seen far too many of my people, including far too many poor defenceless children, killed and injured in my country,” declared Oleksii.
“And far too many have lost their homes, lost their jobs, lost everything in this savage war.
“Vladimir Putin and his Russian forces are carrying out genocide in Ukraine.
“There is no other way of putting this.
“The Russians are bombing and shelling entire cities such as Mariupol.
“They actually bombed a maternity hospital – how low can you get?
“The Russians have destroyed whole areas of my beautiful home city Chernihiv,” said Oleksii, who emigrated to the UK 10 years ago and moved to Market Harborough in 2020.
“My sister is still living there and it is terrifying.
“People are being forced to live down in their basements with their families and children to try to survive as the bombs, shells, missiles and rockets drop all around them.
“Russia is guilty of cold-blooded mass murder.
“Putin is doing what Hitler’s Nazis did to my country back in the Second World War.
“It is brutal, it is deadly and it cannot be allowed to go on,” insisted Oleksii, whose two young children here attend schools in Market Harborough.
“I hate to have to say this but western leaders are cowards.
“Germany wasn’t directly threatening Britain when Hitler invaded Poland in September 1939 but Britain still declared war on them.
“So I don’t see what the difference is now that Putin is waging a bloody war in Ukraine.
“We appreciate all the weapons, the aid and the economic sanctions aimed at Moscow.
“But now we need out and out military support as well.
“We have to call Putin’s bluff.
“I know he has nuclear weapons and people fear a third world war breaking out,” said Oleksii, a lorry driver.
“But the UK, the USA and France have nuclear weapons too.
“I cannot believe that Russian airmen and soldiers are doing this – they are not human.
“Why don’t they drop their bombs in the woods and say they missed or fly to a nearby country like Poland and ask for political asylum?
“The Russian people have been brainwashed, they’re just given non-stop propaganda.
“I grew up in the city of Chernihiv where 99.9 per cent of us spoke Russian.
“None of us will speak Russian now – and we will never speak Russian ever again,” said Oleksii.
Asked if his 34-year-old sister, two brothers or 20-year-old daughter living in the Black Sea port of Odesa want to claim refuge in the UK, he replied: “They are all still very much committed to staying in Ukraine.
“My sister is helping other women and children out in Chernihiv, my two brothers are fighting the Russians and my daughter’s staying put with her boyfriend.
“I saw my sister last week when I drove 56 boxes of supplies to the Polish border for her to pick up and take into Ukraine.
“It was very emotional to see her, she is so brave.
“But she’s OK and she told me there was no point in crying, they just have to get on with it.
“Of course, it’s very worrying, I think about her and my other family over there every day in this terrible time,” said Oleksii.
“But we will never surrender, we’ll never give up.
“But the West has to wake up now.
“At the very least enforce a no-fly zone over Ukraine so the Russians can’t use their warplanes to bomb us.
“But I’m warning you.
“Putin will 100 per cent attack the Baltic states and Poland before targeting even France and Germany in the years to come if we don’t stop him now.
“We can’t just stand by and watch him kill my people and destroy my country day in day out.
“I’d go out and fight with the British Army myself if you send your soldiers to help us,” vowed Oleksii.
The proud Ukrainian patriot is now hoping to take a second shipment of crucial aid to Poland next week.
He is being backed up by Market Harborough’s five Anglican churches as well as the town’s Baptist and Community churches, Market Harborough C of E Academy, the Nationwide Building Society, Harborough Judo Club, Kenny’s lingerie store and Aldi’s.
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, women’s sanitary products, antibacterial wipes and bandages.
You can deliver goods 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.