Russia-Ukraine War

Ukrainian father sends his family to 'safer place,' stays alone to defend Kyiv

Igor Kirienko, 39, believes 'good will always triumph over evil,' as he decides to stay back to defend Kyiv until the very end

Jeyhun Aliyev, Hasan Esen   | 05.03.2022
Ukrainian father sends his family to 'safer place,' stays alone to defend Kyiv

KYIV, Ukraine

Igor Kirienko, 39, was holding back tears as he waved goodbye to his family, who were watching him from the wagon window at a train station in Kyiv, Ukraine's capital.

He boarded his two families, including his wife, ex-wife, two children, mother, aunt, and mother-in-law, in a railway car to send them to a "safer place" while he elected to stay in his hometown and defend it.

"One of my boys is autist," he told Anadolu Agency, tears streaming down his cheeks.

As Russian airstrikes and ground attacks continued on the 10th day of the war, many people are unsure if they will see their families again.

"I've sent seven members of my family. But I'll stay to protect the city," Kirienko said near a train headed to Lviv, a western Ukrainian city about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the Polish border.

"Lviv is safe," he said, worrying aloud that "what has been done with Kharkiv and other cities" could happen here, in the capital.

He said a Russian S-300 missile system is already in Makariv, a settlement in the Kyiv region.

Saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin has reached the "point of no return" with the start of the war against Ukraine, he added: "Good will always triumph over evil."

He also said he hoped "negotiations would take place (between Russia and Ukraine), and at the very least some sort of green corridor would be established" for humanitarian purposes – something which eventually took place on Saturday, for Mariupol and another eastern city.

Speculating on Russia President Vladimir Putin’s motives for war, he said Ukraine could be like the first domino, as Putin “plans to seize all of Ukraine, and then Sweden, and Finland, and become a nightmare for Poland, and all countries weaker, such as the Czech Republic and Moldova, and so on.”

“This creature must be stopped,” he said, urging leaders to “equip us with weapons, and we will fight” – a provisioning that reportedly is already taking place.

The only hope is for the residents of Kyiv is to remain alive in the face of nearly constant shelling and bombardment by Russian forces, he said.

7 nights in a basement

Before they were separated, Kirienko said that he and his family took refuge in a school basement for seven nights and that many women and children remain there.

"(Putin) dragged us down into the cellars," he said.

From the train station, he said he planned to go straight to register to join the nation’s defense forces.

"I'm staying here because we don't want to live under Russia's boot," he explained. "We want a good life like everyone else, in normal countries."

The people invading his country “should be exterminated," he added.

"People should be able to live happily and freely, express their beliefs freely, and not be oppressed," he said.

"I believe people shouldn’t make weapons, but instead think about ecology, development, and how to populate other planets," he urged.

All people sharing “a common grief" have gathered in the city and are sharing everything, including food and drink, said Kirienko.

"That's exactly how it should be," he added.

‘The world should oppose Putin’

Returning to the subject of Putin, who he called a “devil,” Kirienko asked how could he come “in this century and kill people, attack the cities of Chernigov and Kharkov? All nations, the whole world, should oppose him."

Singling out Turkiye’s support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and freedom, he said: “Many thanks to you.”

To other countries opposing the war, he expressed gratitude for their “imposing sanctions, for trying to economically crush this tyrant.”

Kirienko accused Putin of "oppressing his own people … sending (Russian) boys as cannon fodder."

"The Russian people do not deserve such a life," he declared, urging them to stand up against their government.

"The (Russian army) generals should also be tried in The Hague" for war crimes committed in Ukraine, he said, referring to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Recalling how in World War II, "heroic city Kyiv" battled alongside Kharkiv, Chernihiv, and Odesa against Nazi Germany, Kirienko added: "Just look at what's happening in the city now."

While he defends Kyiv, he said, his family will go to Poland, where there is “humanitarian aid, the Red Cross welcomes people there.”

“It’s safer there than here. Now I feel a bit easier," he said.

"We have already lived our life, there should be good future for the children. All our hopes are for this, all for the sake of the children."

Kirienko also hailed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, calling him "a great person who did not surrender the country, he’s standing to the end."

"There’s no way back, this is essentially the point of no return,” said Karienko.

“Putin will be forced by all sanctions, he will destroy his nation. He is cursed by all the Ukrainian mothers and those who died.”

Russia's war on Ukraine has led to international outrage, with the EU, US, UK, and others implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow. The West is also supplying Kyiv with weapons and humanitarian aid.

According to the UN human rights office, at least 331 civilians have been killed and 675 injured in Ukraine since the start of the war.

More than 1.2 million people have also fled Ukraine to neighboring countries, according to the UN Refugee Agency.

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