A Scots policeman has been left in tears fearing for his family’s safety after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine left the country “apocalyptic”.
Valera Chobitko, who lives in Melrose, is terrified for his loved ones’ lives as Russia you invade their city, Kharkiv.
The 37-year-old moved to Scotland three years ago from Bristol after coming to the UK in 1996.
Now he is distraught, fearing for his grandmother Valia, uncle Valera, aunt Natasha, her mother Galia, and their little boy Max.
The four adults and schoolboy are currently holed up in a two bedroom small block of flats near Zhasminovyj street which is under heavy siege.
There are close to 90 other families in their building who shelter together in the basement during air raids and store their water in baths and buckets.
Valera’s brave uncle, also named Valera, has been leaving the flat only to ‘hunt’ for food as supplies are drying up and said he feels like he is in TV series ‘The Walking Dead’.
The family have been hiding together away from windows when they hear explosions or gunfire in a desperate bid to protect themselves.
Now Valera, who works for Police Scotland, has choked back tears to tell the Daily Record about the ‘horror film’ experience his relatives face and how worried he is for his loved ones.
He said: “I just need my family to survive. This is so surreal and shocking, I can’t believe it.
“I’m constantly checking my phone and hoping they are okay. My mother, Victoria, can’t sleep, we are all so worried.
“The city looks apocalyptic right now, my uncle said it looks like something out of The Walking Dead.
“My family can hear shots and explosions outside and are just staying together behind concrete walls for safety.
“We just do not know what is going to happen to them.”
The Ukraine invasion is the biggest attack on a European state since 1945 has caused over 870,000 people to flee, a barrage of sanctions against Russia, and stoked fears of wider conflict in the West unthought-of for decades.
Valera’s home, Kharkiv, is the second biggest city and has been heavily bombarded during the week-long invasion.
His family have been left with the option of staying hidden in the small flat, or risking escape to the border.
If they decide to flee, they face a journey which is more than 600 miles with one tank of petrol, and fear they could be killed on route.
Since Kharkiv is being heavily attacked it means they have a lot of military officials in the area, therefore offering a layer of protection they will not get on an open road.
Valera’s uncle Valera also fears he could be taken and forced to fight if he tries to head for the border, leaving the family unsure of what to do.
Valera explained: “It is hard for my family to escape because they don’t know if they will survive.
“They have been warned that staying at home is the safest thing to do but can hear explosions outside and shooting.
“If they try to make it to the border they could be blown up, shot, or my uncle may be taken away and forced to fight in the army.
“My family are relying on him for food and protection so he can’t do that.
“I want them to make it to the border and get out but they would have to leave their homes and lives which is hard, but the most important thing is for them to survive.”
Valera is now fundraising for his family and their neighbors.
He hopes that if they do decide to head for the border and safety, they can use it to set themselves up in Poland as they will be forced to leave all their belongings behind.
So far he has raised more than £5,400.
Valera is urging friends and family to donate to his fundraiser, as well as to the Red Cross, who are campaigning to help people in Ukraine.
He explained: “It is a really terrifying time. I really want to do something to help them and their neighbours.
“These people really need help. Kharkiv is also running out of supplies and there is nothing in the shops to buy.
“My uncle is considering shooting pigeons for the family to eat if things get any worse.
“If they can make it to the border, which I really hope they do, they can use the money to help them get on their feet.
“If the very worst should happen, I could donate the money to charity, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.
“I also just want to thank the people of Scotland who have been so supportive and helpful during this.
“So many people have donated and sent support to Ukraine which is really good to see.”
You can donate to Valera’s gofundme by clicking here.
You can also donate to the Redcross by clicking here.
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