Dorset man back in UK shares experience in Ukraine

A DORSET resident returning to the UK from Ukraine said ‘you wouldn’t even know’ there was something going on in the Eastern European country.

The passengers arrived at Gatwick Airport on a direct flight from Kyiv shortly after noon on Saturday, just hours after the Foreign Office issued a warning to British nationals in the country, whose number is believed to number in the thousands , to “leave now while the commercial means are still available”.

Paul Meakin, 51 and from Poole, said Ukrainians did not seem worried about the situation despite reports that the threat of a Russian invasion was looming.

Speaking after landing at Gatwick, Mr Meakin, his Ukrainian-British wife Svetlana, 36, and their daughter, who had spent a week in Ukraine attending a funeral, said most passengers on their flight were Ukrainians and not British.

Asked about the attitude of people there, the head of the IT company said: ‘You wouldn’t even know.

“They don’t care, that’s what came out.”

This sentiment was not shared by others on the flight.

Haider Ali, 21 and from Birmingham, said: “I was hesitant to come back because of the advice from the British Embassy, ​​about the orange alert, the red alert.

Haider Ali

“A lot of people, a lot of students were waiting for the red alert, and it happened yesterday.

“Once that happened, everyone booked their tickets and left as soon as possible.”

Mr Ali said his university, the Dnipro Medical Institute in Dnipro, a city in central Ukraine, had advised students to “get out as soon as possible”.

He said around half of the students at the university are British.

The UK and other NATO nations have urged their citizens to leave as fears grow that Russian President Vladimir Putin could order an invasion in the coming days.

Mr Ali said: “I think the main thing people are worried about is that because it’s along the Dnieper River, a lot of people were saying, if Putin wants to smother Kiev, push his warships along too. of this way.”

He said he hoped to return to Ukraine by June to continue his studies.

Mr Ali said Ukrainians were divided on the likelihood of a Russian incursion, but the perception that Western media were exaggerating the crisis was changing.

He said: “Ukrainians are generally very lax in terms of people, but in recent days they have started to worry.

“And when that happens, alarm bells should ring.”

Ukrainian Pasha Honcharuk, 24, from Kyiv, said he was “not too worried” and would have stayed at home had he not worked in the UK.

He said: “All the news channels say there will be war, but I don’t think so.”

But a Ukrainian business analyst, who did not want to be named, said “of course everyone is worried” about the threat of war.

But she said it did not influence her pre-existing decision to move to London from Kyiv for work.

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