Ukraine war: Russians in Sheffield feel helpless in the face of their home country’s assault on civilians

The asylum seeker, who did not want to be identified, said she left her native country in 2018 because she could no longer stand Putin’s aggression against the people.

And she feels helpless as she witnesses her own country’s brutality against innocent civilians in Ukraine.

Her experience as a disability and LGBT rights activist also forced her to leave Russia, as the Soviet nation is notorious for its anti-gay policies.

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More than half a million people, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries since Russia invaded, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) has said. .

But her hatred of Putin has been there since she was little, she said, and she always “knew that Putin wanted” to take over Ukraine.

Ukraine, which shares a border with Russia, was once part of the Soviet Union but became an independent country in 1991.

She said: “It’s terrible. I knew Putin wanted (war). It was obvious. That’s one of the reasons why I left Russia. He won’t stop. Someone one has to stop it.

“I believed Putin. I thought he wanted to make Russia like other European countries. I thought Russia would be like the UK, USA or any country in Western Europe. He has lied.

“He said on television that he wanted to have good relations with the West and I really believed that…what he is doing now is a complete disaster…I think it will be worse for several years. “

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She said she now feels worried for her family back home, especially her 19-year-old nephew who could be sent to war.

She said: “He wanted to go to anti-war demonstrations. All my family members are against this war. I already told them to leave Russia before the war started because it’s not safe to to be there, but they didn’t want to leave.”

She also said she would donate money to Ukrainian troops.

Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, despite growing international pressure that has led to a war crimes investigation and sanctions that have crippled its economy.

According to the Ukrainian government, at least 350 civilians were murdered during the invasion, including 14 children, and more than half a million people fled the country.

Sheffield has been staging anti-war protests since Sunday, with activists calling on the UK government to scrap visa restrictions for fleeing Ukrainians.

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