WEYBURN – The news of Russia invading Ukraine on Thursday was brought home for Lena Nikulin, as the Weyburn resident’s mother and several other relatives are there in the midst of the conflict.
Lena’s mother, Valentina Rusanova, is still in her home in Chernihiv, about two hours away from the capital of Kyiv, and refuses to leave in spite of the sounds of gunfire and bombs around her.
“I just talked to her. They can hear the shooting and bombings. There’s lots of equipment with Russian flags going through the town,” said Lena, adding many residents have fled to safety as the soldiers move through. “She refuses to leave her home.”
Noting the homes there in Ukraine don’t generally have basements, her mom doesn’t have anywhere to hide other than in her home.
“Nobody’s safe there right now,” said Lena, adding that her mother is on her own as her father passed away a number of years ago.
Asked what conditions are like in her hometown, Lena said, “There’s no food in the stores. She has her own food from her garden, but small things like bread aren’t in the store.”
Besides her mother, Lena also has cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents who live in the Odessa area in the southern part of Ukraine. There, Russian warships are attacking the city.
Lena’s husband Alex also has family in Ukraine, including his parents, in the Odessa area.
“Nobody’s safe. Lots of buildings destroyed, the airport’s destroyed. Nobody flies anywhere. Even the trains are not safe anymore,” said Lena.
She had sent her mother some money, and the banks were open for a couple of hours on Friday. “There was a long line outside the building with people to get some cash, but it’s not enough for everybody,” she said.
There are many Ukrainian families here and are part of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, she said, and they will be holding meetings and raising money to help out those in Ukraine.