A Ukrainian delivery man in the British town of Basildon watched the first days of the Russian invasion of his country on television before deciding he had seen enough.
On Friday, the delivery man, Oleksandr Bilyy, packed his car, said goodbye to his wife and returned to his hometown in hopes of joining the fight.
“Nothing will change if I stay in my house,” said Bilyy, 39, said in a phone interview as he ran towards the English Channel. “We are ready to kill some Russians. Every last Russian on our land”.
Mr. Bilyy is forming part of an initial vanguard of Ukrainian nationals in the UK, who are responding the call of President Volodymyr Zelensky to help defend Ukraine.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Sunday said the government would not oppose those who wanted to arm the Ukrainian resistance. “If people want to support that struggle, I’ll support them in doing so,” she told the BBC.
Britain is home to about 35,000 Ukrainians. Community leaders in London said on Sunday that they knew at least 40 people had planned to return home and many more were likely to follow.
Mr. Bilyy has had weapons against the Russian threat before. In 2014, while still living in the city of Lviv, western Ukraine, he enlisted in the army after Russian-backed separatists seize eastern part of the country. This time Mr. Bilyy has an extra impetus: a 21-year-old son in the Ukrainian Army is preparing to deploy.
“I needed to do my best to be there in time to protect him,” Mr Bilyy said. “I don’t have time to wait for anyone.”
Volunteers with medical expertise have also been encouraged to take action.
Dr Dennis Ougrin, a London-based child psychiatrist and native of Ukraine, spent most of Friday with his wife, Roxanne Litynska, collecting donated medical supplies around London. At the Ukrainian Social Club, in the city centre, the couple loaded their Volvo with bandages, syringes and bandages. With help from a Ukrainian charity, they also purchased a portable ultrasound machine, which can be used to find shrapnel in people’s bodies.
“I’m not really good with guns,” Dr. Ougrin said. “I work better with children.”
Word of his efforts spread quickly. By Friday, people were approaching him on the streets and at restaurants, squeezing cash into his hands. A local dentist approached with a large bag of supplies. “Surprise; I don’t even know many of these people,” says Dr. Ougrin.
The plan, he said, was to drive supplies to Poland’s border with Ukraine, a 20-hour trip, stopping along the way to pick up supplies gathered by other Ukrainians. At the Ukrainian border, he will deliver goods to other volunteers to distribute at hospitals and health stations.
In 2014, Dr. Ougrin and his wife sent 3 British vehicles to the Ukrainian Army on the front line. With their driver’s seat on the right side, “they help outwit the Russian snipers,” Ms. Litynska said.
One van, a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter, was converted into a portable freezer to retrieve the bodies of soldiers killed behind enemy lines. “After eight years, it still works,” said Mrs.
“Obviously, we hope this is the only trip we need to make,” Dr. Ougrin said. “But it all depends on how the war goes – we could be here for a very long time.”
In the basement of the Ukrainian Social Club, a group of men, mostly Ukrainian Army veterans, discuss the latest attacks with a sense of urgency.
“They will fight until the last man stands,” said Roman Azarov, a former army officer. He said that since 2015 he has been taking part in military training with about 20 Ukrainian expatriates at a camp outside London. Many at the club were planning to leave the front lines as early as Sunday.
Understanding Russia’s Attack on Ukraine
What is the root cause of this invasion? Russia considers Ukraine to be inside its natural sphere of influence, and it became irritated by Ukraine’s proximity to the West and the prospect of it joining NATO or the European Union. Although Ukraine is not included in this category, it receives financial and military aid from the United States and Europe.
The Russian invasion also seems to have been the catalyst for many on the European right. Websites frequented by right-wing extremists have been buzzing with talk of raising money and recruiting fighters.
Since Russia’s first military intervention in 2014, Ukraine has emerged as a center of white supremacy. Ali Soufan, a security expert in New York, said: “The eight years of conflict in eastern Ukraine, coupled with the conflict that is taking place across Ukraine today, represent a system involving operations in far from Europe’s doorstep,” Ali Soufan, a security expert in New York, said in an email.
Instability “gives extremists white supremacy” same training opportunity He said instability in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria had brought jihadists for years.
Last week OC, a French white nationalist website, posted a pro-Ukrainian statement on Telegram, an encrypted messaging app, encouraging subscribers to donate to the Carpathian Sich, a group that sells Ukrainian military. The post is located and translated by SITE Intelligence Group, Watch for extremist organizations A later OC post said, “Like the Soviet Union, Putin will be defeated,” by linking “French nationalists” to the Ukrainian people.
On Sunday night, after driving for two days, Mr. Bilyy, who was to be a fighter, arrived in the Polish-Ukrainian border town of Korczow and discovered that he had many Ukrainian friends who were also heading for the war. war. Five men from the United States, the Czech Republic and Poland were there, eager for a trip to Ukraine.
“The whole world is here,” Mr. Bilyy said. “We are all ready to fight. We will be there until the end.”
With everyone on board, they drove at dusk across the snowy border towards Lviv.
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/27/world/europe/ukraine-uk-expat-fighters.html Ukrainians in the UK address the reason for Returning home