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British ex-pats in Ukraine tell of their fears as Russian troops mass at the border

British ex-pats in Ukraine have spoken of their fears of being caught in conflict if Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his troops over the border.

Some are furiously working out evacuation plans, while others have pledged to fight alongside their Ukrainian neighbours if the Russians invade.

While the Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to Ukraine, it is believed a few thousand have remained.

Ken Stewart, 54, his heavily-pregnant wife Tetiana, 36, and daughter Yaryna, three, live in a village called Bucha, between Kyiv and the Belarus border, so would be right in the path of a Russian invasion force if, as feared, the tanks crossed there.

The IT specialist from Edinburgh moved to Ukraine 15 years ago.

Ken Stewart, 54, his heavily-pregnant wife Tetiana, 36, and daughter Yaryna, three, live in a village called Bucha, between Kyiv and the Belarus border, so would be right in the path of a Russian invasion force if, as feared, the tanks crossed there

Ken Stewart, 54, with his wife Tetiana, 36, and their daughter Yryna, 3, at their home in Ukraine

Ken Stewart, 54, with his wife Tetiana, 36, and their daughter Yryna, 3, at their home in Ukraine

He took part in the Maidan protests in 2013 and was standing next to someone who was shot dead by suspected police undercover agents.

His multi-national band The Bad Names performed for protesters at the time. He plays guitar.

He told MailOnline: ‘It is worrying as we are about to have our second child. The plan is to go to a private hospital nearby. My wife is booked in there already for a few days.

‘But if Russian troops do come down from Belarus and encircle Kyiv, even though we live outside, we are right in the area where they will be.

‘If Russian tanks do roll towards us and into my village it will of course make me very angry. I have my life here.

‘Our plan is to head west if we can, where it will be much safer, with no checkpoints and that sort of thing.

Mr Stewart took part in the Maidan protests in 2013 and was standing next to someone who was shot dead by suspected police undercover agents

Mr Stewart took part in the Maidan protests in 2013 and was standing next to someone who was shot dead by suspected police undercover agents

Mr Stewart told MailOnline: 'It is worrying as we are about to have our second child. The plan is to go to a private hospital nearby. My wife is booked in there already for a few days'

Mr Stewart told MailOnline: ‘It is worrying as we are about to have our second child. The plan is to go to a private hospital nearby. My wife is booked in there already for a few days’

‘Ideally we’d probably go to Lviv or we can get to the Polish border in about five hours.

‘Yes, we have stocked up on food but we have not gone over the top.

‘There are jerry cans of petrol in the car so we have planned to leave if we have to.

‘My wife is due to give birth very soon and I am monitoring the situation constantly listening to the news, monitoring it on my phone.

‘People here are very stoical about the situation but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen to you so you have to make plans.

‘They don’t want to talk about it or think about it. Others here say they believe they will come as in the Russians will come here.’

Mr Stewart's multi-national band The Bad Names performed for protesters at the time. He plays guitar

Mr Stewart’s multi-national band The Bad Names performed for protesters at the time. He plays guitar

Magazine publisher Peter Dickinson, 45, wife Susanna, 39, and children Nina, 11, and 14-year-old Elizabeth were also making plans to flee Kyiv.

Peter – who settled in the Ukrainian capital after he worked for the British Council 20 years ago – said: ‘All the talk among the British community here is about the Russians and we are all preparing to get our children to safety as a first priority.

‘That will mean stocking up on food, fuel, batteries and and candles in case power is cut and we find ourselves having to join refugees heading west if there’s a no-fly zone.

‘We have lived under this threat for a long time but there is now genuine fear that bombs and missiles might start falling on Kiev and we’ll have to get out.’

Mr Dickinson is originally from Amersham, in the UK and also works as Ukraine editor with the US think tank the Atlantic Council.

He and his Ukrainian wife are preparing for the worst.

Magazine publisher Peter Dickinson, 45, (pictured) wife Susanna, 39, and children Nina, 11, and 14-year-old Elizabeth were also making plans to flee Kyiv

Magazine publisher Peter Dickinson, 45, (pictured) wife Susanna, 39, and children Nina, 11, and 14-year-old Elizabeth were also making plans to flee Kyiv

He added: ‘My life is here, my family, my business and my home so these are difficult choices.

‘But the priority is the safety of my loved ones.

‘We are talking about a potential armageddon and we just do not know what might happen.’

He has stockpiled food and fuel, even installed a new generator in case of power cuts.

‘We have looked at what we would do if there is an attack and if it’s possible we would try to fly out.

‘Otherwise sible we would head west in the car but it may not be possible to cross into the EU if there is a refugee crisis.

‘We are also looking into heading for safety in the mountains.

‘The idea of an invasion does seem extreme but we are prepared, with candles, torches, a generator and all of that.

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to armored personnel carrier (APC) of the 92nd separate mechanized brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces, parked in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region on January 31

Ukrainian servicemen stand next to armored personnel carrier (APC) of the 92nd separate mechanized brigade of Ukrainian Armed Forces, parked in their base near Klugino-Bashkirivka village, in the Kharkiv region on January 31

‘We are extremely lucky as we are slightly outside Kyiv and have our own water supply.

‘My number one priority in all of this is my wife and kids but I also don’t want to disrupt their lives if I don’t have to.

‘If our lives are in danger, however, of course we will have to run.

‘Ukraine is undergoing an incredible test right now.

‘Putin understands he is losing Ukraine and that he cannot reverse that trend. He knows this so maybe he feels he has to do something.’

On Saturday, many ex-pats will join a multi-national ‘flag march’ through Kyiv to demonstrate their support for Ukraine.

A Ukrainian serviceman adjusts the strap of his weapon in a trench at a frontline position in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine on Monday, Jan. 31

A Ukrainian serviceman adjusts the strap of his weapon in a trench at a frontline position in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine on Monday, Jan. 31

One of the organisers, Sean Kelly, 53, a father-of-two from Oxford living in Kiev for 26 years said: ‘I’m disgusted by what Vladimir Putin is doing to our friends in Ukraine and will do everything in my power to support them.

‘He has painted himself into a corner to the point where everyone here is expecting and attack at any moment.

‘And if that happens I would be willing to take up arms and fight for Ukraine – I would do anything I can to help them.’

Logistics company boss Sean, married to Ukrainian-born Natalia with children Oliver, two, and Elizabeth, seven, plans to escape the country via Odessa, and take a ferry across the Black Sea to Turkey.

‘Lots of other Brits are planning to take the shorter overland route west to Poland but I’m sure there will be chaos at that border if bombs start falling and flights out are stopped.

‘But once my children are safe I’ll head back to support Ukrainians in whatever way I can.

‘There’s no words for ‘bully’ in the Ukrainian or Russian language but that’s exactly what Putin is and the free world has to stand up to people like him.

‘The backing Boris Johnson and Britain are giving to the people of Ukraine is fantastic and locals love us so much some bars offer Brits free beer and food.

‘They are tough people who will give Putin’s forces a lot more than they bargained for and deserve our support.’

Ironically, as hundreds of Britons prepared to leave yesterday, notorious ‘war tourist’ 21-year-old Miles Routledge from Birmingham arrived in Kiev.

Thrill-seeker Routledge has amassed more than 60,000 followers on Twitter by visiting dangerous destinations ‘for fun’.

The student – heavily criticised for claiming a seat on one of the evacuation flights from Kabul last year, has since travelled to terror hotspots in South Sudan.

He said yesterday: ‘I’m not worried.

‘If I die then it’s no longer an issue, if I’m alive then I’m in the green.

‘If the country gets invaded, I’m leaving through a neighbouring country or a last-minute flight out.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk



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