Britons with spouses in Ukraine praying for safety of loved ones

Written by on 13 February 2022

Britons with spouses in Ukraine ‘praying’ for safety of loved ones

Britons with spouses in Ukraine have told of being “worried” and “frustrated” at being unable to see their loved ones as the prospect of a Russian invasion looms.

Britons with spouses in Ukraine have told of being “worried” and “frustrated” at being unable to see their loved ones as the prospect of a Russian invasion looms.

Thousands of Britons are being urged to leave the country immediately after the Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening, saying to “leave now while commercial means are still available” and those with partners in Ukraine are facing an anxious wait before they can be reunited.

Gary Smith, 53, from Newcastle, met his wife Helen, 55, in 2012 and has regularly flown to and from Ukraine to visit her.

Mr Smith, who works in payment solutions, told the PA news agency: “I’m more worried than her, I said to her: ‘I’m worried for your safety.’

“I’m here and she’s there, and I can’t do anything about it.

“That’s the frustrating part – the ball is in Putin’s court.”

Mr Smith’s wife is Russian but has lived in Ukraine for more than 30 years and now works as a university lecturer.

As the process to secure a visitor’s visa would take weeks, Mr Smith said she has no plans to leave at the moment.

“She’s got a life there now, her life is in Kharkiv,” Mr Smith explained.

“I’m just praying to the big man,” he said of the prospect of war.

“If the Russians do invade – God forbid they do – it’ll be a long time before I see Helen.”

Jez Myers, a business consultant who has split his time between Manchester and Kyiv since 2018, cannot return to the country as planned to see his Ukrainian partner.

“I was due to fly back tomorrow morning… but it would be naive at best to not follow the FCDO’s advice,” the 44-year-old said.

“I’m worried and I’m worried for her safety.

“We’re now spending Valentine’s Day apart, and she’s having to make decisions around contingencies… Does she go to Lviv, where it’s going to be very busy, but possibly a bit safer? Does she fly out to Poland?”

Mr Myers expressed concern over the lack of a clear plan for him and his girlfriend.

“There’s just a lack of clear information,” he said.

“For a Brit, you should leave the country – and if you have a Ukrainian partner, they should apply for a visa.

“But my partner, she’s faced with this situation (and thinking): ‘Well this is my country, this is my home. Do I stay and fight?”

Mr Myers stressed that for many Ukrainian spouses, there is more to think about beyond fleeing the country.

“She’s going, ‘if I leave the country, I’m leaving behind my mum, my dad, my brother, my grandmother’,” he said.

“There’s absolutely that helplessness felt by Ukrainians.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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