A Ukrainian mum living in Market Harborough is calling on the UK to ramp up military support for her homeland as it’s torn apart by the Russian invasion.
Natalya McTernan, 47, made her heart-breaking plea as she revealed that her younger brother is risking his life every day in his devastated home city of Bucha near the capital Kyiv.
She spoke to the Harborough Mail just weeks after her 20-year-old niece Valeriia managed to escape war-shattered Ukraine to come and live with her in Market Harborough.
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More than 400 people were found dead in Bucha in horrific scenes which shocked the world after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops withdrew earlier this month.
“It’s terrifying for all of us in our family at the moment.
“So many Ukrainian people have already been killed by the Russians and so many other terrible things have been carried out as well,” said Natalya.
“It is simply unbelievable that this horrible war is going on right now in my beloved country in front of our very eyes.
“We really appreciate all that the UK and other countries are doing for Ukraine.
“Your humanitarian aid and weapons such as rockets and anti-tank missiles are absolutely vital to help us fight the invader.
“But Russia is massive and we are much much smaller,” said the mum-of-two as almost five million refugees have already fled Ukraine.
“So we need all the help and support that we can get.
“And if you have professional military people that we could benefit from then all the better.
“We cannot allow this to continue, we have to end this terrible war as soon as we can – too many people have died already.
“If you could send warplanes to join us at least then that would be good.”
She said her 44-year-old brother, who runs a building business, is working flat out to bolster and strengthen exhausted Ukrainian forces desperately fighting in and around Bucha.
“He’s doing his best to round up food, medication and combat clothing and equipment such as camouflage kit in the city.
“I spoke to him just yesterday and it’s very tough out there, very difficult.
“He’s still living in his home there but it’s very cold and he’s having to sleep in his sleeping bag,” said Natalya, who’s lived in Market Harborough for eight years.
“A lot of people’s homes and other buildings in Bucha have just been demolished by the Russians.
“It’s disgusting what they are doing.
“There is no electricity or power and he can only power up his phone in his car so that he can talk to us and stay in touch.
“My brother’s colleague rents a flat in Bucha and it was occupied and wrecked by Russian soldiers.
“One of my very good friends lives near Bucha and their house was bombed and destroyed.
“Thank goodness they were sheltering in the basement or they’d have been killed,” said Natalya, a manager at Rosewood Manor care home on Coventry Road, Market Harborough.
“My 18-year-old nephew was studying at university in Kyiv and he’s OK as is my sister-in-law.
“They tell me that it’s even worse out there in Bucha than we see here on TV and in the papers.
“There is nothing left.
“Shopping centres, people’s homes, factories and other buildings have just been destroyed.
“It is very scary.
“Russian troops have even left booby trap bombs in people’s fridges and kids’ toys.
“The Russians are carrying out cold-blooded murder, this is genocide against my people,” said Natalya, whose mother is Russian.
“My brother is not a soldier, not everyone can be a fighter.
“But he’s determined to stay out there in the war zone to do his bit for Ukraine when my country needs him most.
“He is very brave – and we worry about him and our family there all the time.
“I only hope that the UK and the West can help Ukraine defeat Russia and push them back out of my country as soon as they can.”
Natalya spoke out as one of her Ukrainian compatriots living in Market Harborough has made a second 2,500-mile round trip ferrying critical supplies to the Polish-Ukrainian border.
Oleksii, 41, met his 34-year-old sister to hand over hundreds of goods - including medical aid, sanitary items, clothes and nappies.
She drove hundreds of miles from her home in the shelled and seriously-damaged northern city of Chernihiv to join up with his vital mission of mercy.
“We are very grateful to the people of Market Harborough, this area and the whole of Britain for getting behind our people.
“We are coming under a brutal attack from Russia and our people are battling like real warriors to fight them all the way,” said Oleksii, who is already planning another expedition to deliver more food and other aid.
He said Russia is committing war crimes as US President Joe Biden accused Moscow tyrant Putin of trying to “wipe out” Ukrainians in a “genocide”.
And an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) report has accused Russia of “clear patterns of international humanitarian law violations” in Ukraine.
The OSCE said that if the Kremlin had respected its international obligations after invading Ukraine on Thursday February 24 “the number of civilians killed or injured would have remained much lower”.