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Russia invades Ukraine: Kent woman from Ukraine reacts with 'shock, devastation and horror'


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A Kent woman from Ukraine has responded with "shock, devastation and horror" to Russia's invasion of her mother country.

Oksana Styles, 46, was born and raised in western Ukraine, and has shared her reaction following news Moscow has today mounted a vast, full-scale invasion by land, sea and air.

Oksana Styles with one of her sons in Ternopil,Ukraine. Picture: Oksana Styles
Oksana Styles with one of her sons in Ternopil,Ukraine. Picture: Oksana Styles

In a televised address to the nation at midday, Boris Johnson told how "innumerable missiles and bombs have been raining down on an entirely innocent population" since Russian troops invaded.

Responding to the crisis, Oksana said: "For me and for 45 million other Ukrainians, we are shocked by what happened today.

"It's shock, and devastation, and horror.

"And we just don't know what is the way out, because it seems like no sanctions will work on Putin. I just don't see what is the way out."

A Ukrainian and English teacher, Oksana lives in St Augustine's Road, Canterbury, with her husband and two sons.

Oksana's children Richard and Ralph in Ternopil, Ukraine. Picture: Oksana Styles
Oksana's children Richard and Ralph in Ternopil, Ukraine. Picture: Oksana Styles

But her mother, brother, and brother's family still live in Ukraine, along with many friends including some in the captial of Kyiv.

"They just don't know what to do, right now," she said. "They're staying put - they're sitting in their houses and waiting.

"On one hand, they did expect some kind of invasion.

"But on the other hand, this was out of the blue - because [Putin] attacked in the very early morning, like Hitler did.

"And the attack was from the north, south, east. And it was frightening for people. They heard the explosions and it was shocking because they did not expect it."

Russian president Vladimir Putin (Alexei Nikolsky, Kremlin Pool/AP)
Russian president Vladimir Putin (Alexei Nikolsky, Kremlin Pool/AP)

In his address this afternoon, Boris Johnson criticised the Russian president for having “unleashed war in our European continent”, attacking Ukraine “without any provocation and without any credible excuse”.

He vowed that Britain “cannot and will not just look away” from Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and pledged to unite with allies to respond with a massive package of sanctions designed to “hobble the Russian economy”.

But Oksana criticised the UK's response to the crisis so far.

"I think that the UK government should have been stronger with sanctions," she said.

"My fear is that Putin's not going to stop at Ukraine. He'll continue further.

"If he's allowed to grab the land, he's not going to stop.

Boris Johnson addressed the nation after he spoke with the Ukrainian president this morning
Boris Johnson addressed the nation after he spoke with the Ukrainian president this morning

"He's mentally unstable - that's how the whole world sees him."

Many others have echoed her sentiments, including North Thanet MP, Sir Roger Gale, who told KentOnline today: "The situation is extremely dangerous. We should have done a lot more a lot sooner. The western world has got to wake up, and even at this late stage it's time to do something."

Oksana recalls the "peaceful life" she enjoyed while living in Ukraine, before moving to England in 2006.

"I grew up in the 70s and 80s and we had no problems with Russia," she said. "We studied Russian at school and we travelled to Russia.

"I went to Ukraine last October. I go there with my children, who are British, and for them Ukraine is their mother's country and they love it as much as they love Britain.

"So for my children, today is as shocking as it is to me."

She added that her friends and family "do have trust in the Ukrainian army".

"It's not like it was in 2014 [when the long-rumbling Russo-Ukrainian War began]. Today, the army is strong and they're putting up a good fight, from what I understand."

In recent days and weeks, as tensions mounted and the threat of a Russian invasion loomed, Oksana says her family and friends have been "living their everyday life".

"My friends were going to work, taking children to school - just normal," she said. "I'm not sure about today."

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