Ukraine: ‘This invasion has changed the world’

Ukrainian community shaken by ‘horrendous’ war as appeal for emergency aid is launched

Friday, 4th March — By Anna Lamche

camdenmarch3 Image 2022-03-03 at 08.19.53 (14)

Protesters in Trafalgar Square on Sunday [Alisdaire Hickson]

THE devastated director of London’s Ukraine centre has called for donations to help those directly impacted by the Russian invasion.

Vlodko Pawluk, who heads the Ukrainian Information Service (UIS) in Liverpool Road, King’s Cross, has condemned the military attacks and urged people to donate money and medical equipment.

“Many of the Ukrainians who are fleeing now are mostly young women and children, because men have been asked to stay behind,” Mr Pawluk said.

“I’m second generation but I have cousins and friends in Ukraine – one friend in Odessa has made her way to Romania.

“I have friends in Kyiv I’ve not managed to get hold of.”

His own family hails from western Ukraine.

Mr Pawluk said donations can be made to the Ukrainian Social Club in Holland Park, which is run by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (AUGB).

“We’re collecting a wide range of equipment for the military, mostly boots, uniforms [and] helmets. They’ve got weapons but there is a lack of other equipment,” Mr Pawluk said.

“We’re not accepting [civilian] clothes because we haven’t got the manpower to sort them out. All we’re accepting is humanitarian aid, like toiletries and medicines, and equipment like military uniforms and boots.”

Vlodko Pawluk

Money can be donated via a GoFundMe fundraiser, which recently surpassed the £1million mark.

The British government has so far pledged to take some 200,000 refugees, but “initially it’s only for those who have family here already”, Mr Pawluk said.

He added that the scale of the invasion, which has seen air strikes and paratroopers encircle major cities, has been shocking, even though the invasion had been feared for weeks.

“Everybody knew something was going to happen – we thought perhaps something would happen in the Donetsk area to create a land corridor to Crimea,” said Mr Pawluk. “But to launch an all-out invasion of Ukraine? Nobody thought about this.”

He has commended those on the front line of the conflict where reports have continued to emerge of Russian forces facing a determined response from Ukranians taking up arms in defence of the country.

“To those who thought that Ukraine and Russia are the same – if they were, you wouldn’t find the absolutely horrendous fighting now,” said Mr Pawluk. “[Russian president Vladimir] Putin would have already annexed half the country, but he hasn’t – that’s because the Russians are meeting stiff resistance.”

“People don’t want Putin to rule over them. People cannot say any more that Russia and Ukraine are brothers, or one nation. That myth has totally evaporated.

“I think since Thursday, everything has changed in the world.”

On Sunday, a pro-Ukraine demonstration took over Trafalgar Square, with some calling for a no-fly zone to be introduced. Implementing such a measure, however, risks bringing nations including the UK into a direct war with Russia.

In a statement issued by the council, Town Hall leader Georgia Gould said: “Camden is ready to do what it can to provide support to people fleeing the war and to join the humanitarian aid response. We also know that Camden residents with roots in Russia, and the wider region, will have deep concerns about what is happening, too.”

She added: “In Camden, we welcome refugees seeking a safe home in our community. In recent years we have welcomed refugees from Syria and Afghanistan, and we will do what we can to support people escaping war in Ukraine. We now need immediate action from the government – we need the government to work with us and other councils to fund housing and support for any refugees who come to the UK.”

She suggested those wanting to help could support an appeal by the British Red Cross.

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