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‘This will not end well. People are going to die’: Ukrainian living in Highlands fears his homeland could be destroyed forever

Steve Tuzylak of Drumnadrochit who has relatives in Ukraine. Picture by Sandy McCook.
Steve Tuzylak of Drumnadrochit who has relatives in Ukraine. Picture by Sandy McCook.

The son of a Ukrainian refugee, says Vladimir Putin will stop at nothing to have a hold over his homeland.

Steve Tuzylak, 67, who lives in Drumnadrochit, said that his whole life has been under the shadow of Russia’s communism.

He said that the unfolding situation in the Ukraine is likely to be drawn out and bloody – and simple “financial sanctions” will not stop Putin.

Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Thursday morning on a number of fronts. Casualties are being reported, the numbers of deaths reportedly includes children.

The former police officer said: “We watched the news on the television and it is frightening how quickly it is happening.

“We are upset and worried that people have – and are – going to die.

‘Putin is a dictator’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaking during a televised address, in Moscow, Russia. Photo by Xinhua/Shutterstock.

“Putin is a dictator who wants to be listened to. He wants to be important.

“So many people will have to die for this one person. He wants to return to Russia the great. The USSR of old.

“Today’s invasion could trigger a huge war.”

He said: “The way of life in Ukraine is already destroyed.”

“I am very concerned really, and I am concerned about what the west will do.

“Stopping access to banking is not enough.”

Mr Tuzylak is referring to the measures that Prime Minister Boris Johnson put in place earlier this week.

‘History is peppered with people like Putin’

He continued: “History is peppered with people like Putin. He is a dictator. This will not end well. People are going to die in large numbers.

“Putin is in control here. He has measured the resistance to this invasion. He will only do what he will get away with.

“Putin is not expecting Nato fighters to attack him. He knows what he will get away with and he will take that to its limit.

“He knows Biden does not want to take America into foreign conflicts. Putin is sitting there thinking he can get away with this. And with minimal problems.”

He said: “My family are from around the Ivano-Frankivsk area – so a thousand miles from the unfolding situation.

“As children we were told that we would return to the Ukraine as soon as communism was overthrown.

‘Ukraine is so much a part of my life’

Police officers inspect area after an apparent Russian strike in Kyiv. AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti

Mr Tuzylak grew up in a Ukrainian community in north Manchester. He went to a Ukrainian school with 200 pupils all who conducted life entrenched in the culture and language of the city.

He, and his wife, moved to Drumnadrochit six years ago, to be near his daughter who works for the NHS.

“I was told as a child that we would be moving back in a matter of months. Ukraine is so much part of my history and my life,” he continued.

“So right now, when I see what is happening, I am very worried indeed.

“My own family are not likely to be caught up in the chaos of today. We are from the western agricultural part of the county. Our family aligned with the Polish and Romanians.

“The people in the east were those who have long stayed aligned to Russia. They have long looked to some glory USSR days to be returned.”

Mr Tuzylak said: “After World War Two my father came from Ukraine to England. He was anti communism. He could not live in the country.

“He never returned to live in his home.

“He was a prisoner of war in Germany. He came to England as it was the closest place he could come to – as he did not trust that west Germany would not be communist one day. He always believed he would be back in his homeland as soon as he could.”

“It wasn’t until the 1990s that he went back, when his own father was dead. And he has since passed away in 2014. He never returned to live in his home.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson from Downing Street, London, in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Photo credit: UK TV Pool/PA Wire.

“People do not really appreciate the size of the country. Our home is at the western end of the country, near the Polish border.

“We have relatives in the western area. We worked in agriculture. They called the area the ‘granary of Europe’.

“I am reminded of western Ukraine, living here in the Highlands. The area is very similar with its huge forests and farming lands.

“The thing is both Poland and Russia have always wanted parts of Ukraine because of the great wealth in both agriculture in minerals and agriculture that it had.

“It is a place of great strategic value not only on its landmass but its strategic nature in its place in Europe and its sea routes.

‘Russia has always wanted the Ukraine’

Traffic jams are seen as people leave the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, February 24, 2022.  AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti.

“So Russia has always wanted it.

“Putin wants to return to the Russia and have control over the states around it, to as it was before the cold war.

“All those countries were part of the Soviet Union and were buffer zones to Europe.

“Putin wants one thing – to be a big player on the world stage. He has been sidelined. The truth is you could ignore Russia if it wasn’t doing what it is doing today.

“He is colonising, rather than decolonising, as the rest of the world is.

“Most of the people in Russia and Ukraine already know that this war is not going to make their lives any better. They will still live as they have.

“This is complete madness as it is of no benefit to anyone in Russia.

‘There is no one who will benefit from this invasion’

“People have died, are dying and will die for this one man, Putin, to fulfill his dream.

“There is no one who will benefit.

“This is just his status. Before the fall of the Soviet Union there were two important people in the world. They were the US president and the USSR president, Putin has been sidelined and he wants his place back.

“He wants the wealth of Ukraine back, it is a personal thing. He wants to make Russia great again by colonising.

“You could understand if he was trying to get gas or oil. But Russia does not need those resources.”

 

 

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