‘Thanks to Britain’ Ukrainians mark independence across UK as celebrations banned in Kyiv

Ukraine: US and UK supplies are not enough says Inna Sovsun

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson took the opportunity to praise both to Ukrainian people forced to flee their homes, and to the British people who have welcomed them with open arms, while Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun offered a tribute of her own. Ms Sovsun, who served as her country’s deputy Minister of Education and Science from 2014 to 2016, told Express.co.uk: “Ukraine is extremely grateful to the British, the British Government, as well as all Ukrainianі in Britain for the military, economic and humanitarian aid, for the volunteer activity of all those who want to help stop Russia.

“I hope that the friendship between our countries will be just as fruitful even after the victory.

“I also believe that Ukrainians who found refuge in Britain will be able to return home and work together to build a modern and developed country we all dream of.”

And people who have moved to the UK to escape the bombs have offered insights on how they have been settling in – likewise thanking their hosts.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has banned celebrations this year, citing concerns that Putin was poised to launch attacks against civilian targets.

However, multiple events are taking place across Britain, from London to Edinburgh, as Ukrainian expats take the opportunity for a day of national pride in welcoming surroundings.

Kateryna Chebizhak, 33, came to the UK in April from Kyiv with her seven-year-old son Kolya, after brief stays in Poland and Germany.

She said: “I was staying in Ukraine for a while, but it was very, very frightening.

“We didn’t feel safe in the Kyiv region. The noise and information I was hearing were awful.

“One day, there was a big explosion not far from our house and the house was shaking.

“We could see the light from the explosion. I didn’t know if our town would be occupied in a day or two, so we decided to leave.”

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Ms Chebizhak, who lives in Enfield in North London with her son and host family, was an English teacher in Ukraine but is trying to transition to being a translator.

As a result, Enfield Council referred her to social enterprise Beam, which raises funds for people looking for work or a home and supplies a case worker.

She has received help to raise funds to take part in an interpreting course, as well as finding a full-time job working in administration for a medical centre in central London to help earn money as she learns.

She said: “I’m in the office every day and I’m doing training for the next six weeks. It’s really interesting and I’m working with a nice team.

“I’m excited to undergo the interpreting course because I planned to undergo a similar course in Ukraine over the summer.

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“I like to live a very independent life, but I was still very touched and impressed with people who assisted me.”

An impressive £1,683 was raised in 52 days by more than 60 members of the public and was used to pay for Ms Chebizhak’s Level 7 Diploma in Translation Exam plus Preparation Course with a language tutor, as well as travel costs for the first couple of months in work and work clothes.

Ms Chebizhak said her son said has found the UK “impressive”, despite not wanting to have to flee his home.

She said: “He likes the kids as they are very friendly here. He is very successful at school. He likes to learn.”

Ms Chebizhak’s son is also involved with his school’s football club, and Ms Chebizhak added: “This club organised a camp, so he went to the camp and he said he loved it because he played football all day.”

Despite settling into her new life, Ms Chebizhak said it was “not the way I wanted”, and remains concerned about her parents, who decided to stay in Ukraine.

She said: “They have jobs there, they have a house there, they have lots of cats and they do not want to leave their house. It is difficult for people who are in their 50s and 60s.”

Diana Severyn, 19, who now lives in Wanstead in east London, also fled her home in Poltava, western Ukraine, travelling to Poland alone in March of this year.

She said: “I actually feel really nervous about the situation in Ukraine, especially after the middle of March when some cities were under attack already and people and children were getting hurt. It was awful.

“I just try not to think too deeply about it or I get too emotional.”

Ms Severyn came to the UK on April 7 and was likewise referred to Beam, which set up a crowdfunder for her to become an admin assistant and pursue a digital marketing course.

She added: “I have previous experience in social media management. I really liked it and wanted to develop my skills further in digital marketing and strategy.”

Her crowdfunder, set up on August 1, has raised roughly £2,000 towards the £2,200 total so far.

She said: “I’ve already received a laptop and Oyster card from Beam. I’m really happy and I didn’t expect that it would happen so fast.

“Before this, I didn’t know what to do. I now have a straight path to my future thanks to Beam and I feel really motivated.

“I feel like every road is opening for me and I am guaranteed a good future.

“When I came here, I felt a bit scared, but now I feel like I have my future in front of me.”

Seb Barker, co-founder and chief operating officer of Beam, said: “Beam is supporting refugees like Kateryna and Diana to resettle in the UK, by giving them an online support network and all the tools they need to accelerate their journey into stable work and housing. If you work in local government and are worried about the refugee crisis, please get in touch.”

Marina Tsymbal, 38, a lawyer who is now pursuing a career as a yoga teacher, and Hanna Zarytska, 38, a radio editor, moved to Market Drayton, North Shropshire with their young boys.

Ms Zarytska’s hosts, Julia and Simon Farrant, 57 and 61, have erected a Ukrainian flag outside their home to mark the nation’s day of independence from Russia.

The women, whose 13-year-old sons have been playing together in the pleasant summer weather, told Express.co.uk they would be celebrating the occasion “in their hearts”.

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Ms Zarytska, who arrived in the UK just yesterday, explained she hoped to send her son to a local school and Mrs Farrant was helping her with all the necessary paperwork and documentation.

The journalist, who has friends working for the BBC in Ukraine, also hopes to learn to drive while in Britain and her host family has purchased her a Peugeot 1007 so she can begin lessons.

Number 10 was yesterday festooned with yellow and blue flowers in advance of a rally in Downing Street organised by the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain London, Support Ukraine/London EuroMaidan and British Ukrainian Aid later today.

Mr Johnson said: “I’m delighted to offer my congratulations on the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s declaration of independence, and to remember that amazing day in 1991 when Ukrainians celebrated in the streets as their country was reborn as a sovereign state.

“But alas, today, Ukraine’s independence is threatened once again, and her people are fighting with steel and with courage to defend their homes and their families and to preserve their right to decide their own destiny in their own country.”

The outgoing PM added: “I have never doubted for a moment that Ukraine is going to win this struggle because, no force on earth can overcome the patriotism of 44 million Ukrainians.”

He insisted the United Kingdom will “stand with Ukraine and provide every possible military, economic and humanitarian support.”

Since February 24, the UK has supplied Ukraine with more defensive weapons than any other European country, including nearly 7,000 anti-tank missiles, and welcomed more than 100,000 Ukrainian friends “to find safety here in the UK”, he added.

The PM concluded: “One day Ukraine will come through this ordeal and achieve victory, and when that moment comes, as it will, we in the UK will be even prouder to be friends of Ukraine.”

Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ukraine, Robert Jenrick MP, who also chairs Conservative Friends of Ukraine, anw and was the first MP to take in a Ukrainian family under the Homes for Ukraine scheme said:

‘On Ukrainian Independence Day, let it be known to the brave Ukrainian people that the U.K. will never rest until a sovereign, free and prosperous Ukraine is restored.

Hard times lie ahead, but the support for Ukraine’s fight for freedom across the UK is overwhelming and the APPG’s support for Ukraine’s cause – indeed, the support for Ukraine throughout parliament – is ironclad.’

Ukrainian Independence Day events across the UK:

Rally at Downing Street, 5pm

Participants are being invited to “protest against the war and genocide in Ukraine by Russia” as well as celebrating the country’s independence.

The event will feature a “ceremonial opening” to be followed by short speeches by guests.

Flag-raising ceremony, Portsmouth, 11am

Portsmouth City Council is inviting all residents to “join and reflect”.

Sunflowers, Ukraine’s national flower, will also be made available for supporters (while stocks last), donated by Sam’s Sunflowers at Stoke Fruit Farm on Hayling Island.

Ukrainian Independence Day in Manchester, 12.30pm to 9pm

Manchester City Council is backing a family fun day organised by the Ukrainian Cultural Centre, featuring Ukrainian food and traditional Ukrainian music.

A council spokesman said: “The Independence Day festivities will educate residents and revellers on the history and culture of Ukraine, as well as demonstrate Manchester’s solidarity with the international Ukrainian community.”

Various events, Dumfries and Galloway

Ukrainian flags will be flown on civic buildings in Annan, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Stranraer, which the local authority’s offices will be lit blue and yellow.

Residents are being invited to fly homepage blue and yellow flags in their windows in a demonstration of solidarity, while various local caterers will produce a range of Ukrainian dishes. A new Ukrainian cafe at the Crichton to come and sample their menu of British and Ukrainian dishes.

Councillor Stephen Thompson, co-chairman of the region’s Community Planning Partnership Board said: “The response from local people and the Scottish Government has been amazing and demonstrates the compassion that our country has for people facing a humanitarian crisis.”

Councillor Lind Dorward, his co-chairwoman, added: “We are expecting to have over 600 Ukrainian Guests living in this area for some time – from Stranraer to Langholm and Kirkconnel to Gretna – we have been extremely impressed by their determination to seek employment, improve their English, integrate and positively impact on our communities.”

Statement of the AUGB Board of Directors

Ukraine’s Independence Day and Six Months of War

24 August marks the 31st anniversary of Ukrainian independence. It also marks six months since Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which has unleashed the murder of thousands of innocent civilians, perpetrated innumerable war crimes, caused millions to flee their homes, weaponised food and energy, and threatened the peace and stability of Europe.

Today, more than ever, Ukraine’s people need the continued united, steadfast support of all democracies to defeat this barbaric invader and to restore peace on our continent.

Russia must be brought to justice for the crimes it has committed against civilians and the rules based international order.

Ukrainian men, women and children have been killed, mutilated and raped. Schools, hospitals, orphanages and whole cities have been bombed and razed to the ground.

Nuclear facilities are under continual threat of Russia’s bombs. While Ukrainians are denied the right to live peacefully in their own homes, Russia continues to perpetrate acts of terrorism and hundreds of thousands of Russians travel freely throughout

Europe, buy assets and secure the advantages of a democratic society for their relatives.

We are grateful to the people of the UK, who have so generously opened their homes and their hearts to displaced Ukrainians and have understood the horror of Russia’s war in Europe. We acknowledge that the UK Government and the Opposition in Parliament have been and are leading supporters of Ukraine in terms of military and humanitarian aid.

But in the face of Russia’s threat to peace and stability, the key priority must be for strengthened Western action to help end Russia’s war so that Ukraine can start to rebuild. This is not a time for us to lessen our support and our efforts. We call on the UK and its partners to:

• Sustain and increase the supply of military aid and equipment to Ukraine’s army

• Stop issuing visas for Russians to travel, work and study in Europe

• Confiscate all Russian assets that are helping to fund this war

• Make greater efforts to reduce reliance on Russian gas more quickly

• Designate Russia as a sponsor of state terrorism.

On this day of Ukraine’s independence, we remember and honour all those who have sacrificed their lives for its freedom – today and throughout history. We weep for the innocent men, women and children who have suffered, and continue to suffer the inhumanity of Russia’s war. But we remain resolute in our belief that Ukraine will overcome, and that we will celebrate once again a truly independent, sovereign nation which will take its rightful place in the European family of democracies.

Ukraine was, is and will always be!

Slava Ukraїni!

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