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Aid, weapons and volunteer fighters needed in Ukraine, says UK community group

A protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in George Square, Glasgow, on February 28. (Andrew Milligan/PA)
A protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in George Square, Glasgow, on February 28. (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Ukraine needs aid, military assistance and volunteers “to fight these Russian troops”, according to members of the country’s diaspora living in the UK.

Andrew Duda, Wolverhampton branch chairman of the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB), said there had already been a “dreadful” cost to the Russian invasion, which has seen Ukrainians killed, injured or sent fleeing from their homes while destruction was brought to their towns and cities.

Mr Duda, who was born in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands to Ukrainian parents, has about a dozen cousins, including aunts and uncles, in Lviv in the country’s west near the Polish border.

The city, which has so far been spared the very worst of Russian air and artillery strikes, has become a transport hub for refugees heading westwards, fleeing the heavy fighting to the east and south.

Andrew Duda, branch chairman
Andrew Duda, Wolverhampton branch chairman (AUGB Wolverhampton branch/PA)

Mr Duda said: “I’ve been in contact with my family in Lviv, but that’s pretty quiet at the moment.

“There’s been some bombings of strategic areas but generally speaking it’s been left alone.

“Its where the refugees are coming in, and heading to the border with Poland.

“It’s scary, extremely scary.”

Ukraine’s enforced transformation into a battleground is far cry from the last time Mr Duda was in the country in 2013, when he celebrated the nation’s Independence Day weekend.

The 58-year-old also said he had “had some phone calls” from people in the UK wanting to travel to fight the Russians in Ukraine, but had referred them to the embassy in London.

He said: “Anybody that does want to fight, we’ve been told to advise them to contact the Ukrainian embassy in London.

“I’m not sure what the procedure is once people get to the embassy, but that’s what we’ve been told.”

He added: “It feels personal – very much so.

“My immediate concern is for the welfare of Ukrainian citizens, and for what our cities will look like after this is over – destroyed, basically.

Ukraine invasion graphic
(PA Graphics)

“They are destroying people’s homes, so they’ll have nothing to go back to.

“But what I really want is for this military assistance; in weapons and in people who want to fight for Ukraine to go out there.

“I really want to see that happen, so they we can fight off these Russian troops.”

Mr Duda said there were many avenues for people to donate and help out, adding the AUGB’s own Help Ukraine Emergency Appeal on GoFundMe had already raised more than £1 million.

He added: “We are taking donations directly at the club, but we could get overwhelmed with it as well, so we are also directing people to the British and Polish Red Cross.”

People can make a donation to the AUGB’s appeal at www.gofundme.com/f/helpukraine.

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