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"The whole world needs to make Putin stop": A Ukrainian's view from South Yorkshire

Yuliia Nicholls, a Ukrainian citizen living in South Yorkshire, writes for Now Then about Kharkiv and urges western countries to do more to stop Russia's war.

I’m writing this article and my heart is crying for those who are now in Ukraine and for my family in Kharkiv.

Dozens of grad missiles have been showering down on my native city, the second largest in Ukraine, since Putin launched his full-scale invasion, attacking not only military objects and government buildings but also civilians and civilian infrastructure. People are hiding underground in improvised bomb shelters such as tube stations, underground garages, car parks and basements. Women are giving birth in these ‘shelters’, and doctors are saving patients' lives in terrible conditions.

My family and their friends, among whom there is a pregnant woman and a three-month old baby, are hiding in a cellar. There’s also my mum’s friend’s cat and our little dog, a Yorkshire terrier, who is very old and ill. The cellar is very cold and damp but it feels a bit safer there as it is a slightly further from the sound of explosions.

Those people who do not have access to such shelters are hiding in the corridors and bathrooms of their flats, away from the windows. My heart is bleeding for them. I’m praying for their safety and freedom. It’s devastating to hear them on the phone crying and asking, 'Why? What have we done? Why are Russians killing us?' and, 'Please, tell them to stop!'

We do need to tell them to stop; Russians themselves need to tell Putin to stop. The whole world needs to make him stop.

Being a member of the Russian-speaking community in the UK - yes, I am Ukrainian, but I speak Russian like many other people in eastern Ukraine - I always tried to avoid political debates around the Russia-Ukraine conflict. I have friends from different post-Soviet countries and many of us have different opinions. But since Putin started a war aimed at destroying the Ukrainian nation, I cannot be a neutral observer any more.

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A photo Yuliia took on her last visit to Kharkiv last year.

Yuliia Nicholls.

I’m aware of how propaganda and brainwashing work. I believe all the sources of Russian propaganda that have invaded many of its nation's minds need to be shut down in any possible way. There should not be any access to Russian pseudo-news on social media, starting with YouTube and Facebook. Those users who are 'freely expressing' their support for the Russian president and his bloody actions should be banned from social media where possible.

But until this anti-propaganda campaign starts working, we need to focus on how to ensure civilians are as safe as possible in this horrific situation. Green corridors need to be established to evacuate civilians from war zones in Ukraine. Humanitarian corridors needs to be created too. As the situation gets worse in Ukraine, I now think more radical methods need to be used to stop the war that is a threat for the whole world today. We need to urge other countries to shelter the sky immediately. We need to use all possible methods to stop this inferno.

I would like to thank all of you who do care and who support Ukrainians. God bless you all, and god bless Ukraine.

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