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‘They can't do anything, they can't leave’
This morning, Ivan and Sveta woke to the sounds of planes flying overhead. They live 20km or so from Ivano-Frankivsk, a city in western Ukraine. Russian missiles were falling on the airport there. “It took everybody by surprise, because they didn’t expect anyone to go for the west of Ukraine,” says Olga Kurtianyk, cousin to Ivan and Sveta, and chair of the Rochdale branch of the Association of Ukrainians of Great Britain, a group created in 1947 to promote Ukrainian culture and heritage in the UK.
When I ask Olga how she feels, she tells me she woke up anxious. That feeling curdled into sadness, and has since hardened as anger: “We feel that the sanctions should be imposed now,” she said, “we should really isolate Russia.” As for Sveta, she is distraught, while Ivan is trying to remain stoic. Neither of them want to be at war, or part of a rebuilt Soviet Union. I ask Olga what their plans are, can they leave? “They can't do anything, they can…