Vancouver man in Ukrainian city captured by Russia says people are scared to leave their homes

A man born and raised in Vancouver is among the thousands of people living in the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russian control.

The man, who doesn’t want to be identified because of fears of retribution, says Russia has been mining the city of Kherson and people are too scared to leave their homes.

“Everybody has to stay put or they will most likely end up dead,” he told CityNews.

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“There’s not much we can do. It’s overwhelming us. The Russians have started mining the city, they have told people, ‘this is what we are doing, stay in your homes.’ They are putting wires up across main roads and other roads with grenades on them to stop traffic.”

He adds his little nephew “who should be out flirting with girls in a bar right now,” is in the army and has lost friends in the invasion.

Kherson, a Black Sea port city of about 280,000 people, fell to Russian control on Thursday when soldiers took over the government headquarters in the area.

While the flag over the city is still Ukrainian, the city’s mayor says he’s been told to impose a curfew and tell people to walk in groups of no more than two. He’s also been told to instruct people in the city to obey the orders of Russian solders.

The man from B.C. says he moved to the city because his wife, who he has a daughter with, is Ukrainian. Her family is also still in the city.

“I came to Ukraine to help out my family. I purchased a house here for them and spent a lot of money fixing it all up and now I’m wondering if it’s still going to be standing after this,” he added.

“The area where my brother and sister-in-law are, [Russian soldiers] put cars across the roads to block it. They dumped gravel on the cars, they’re keeping people locked in. They’ve been shooting at whatever, whenever, it seems.”

People in the area are bartering food and water as supplies dwindle. The man says he plans to give his neighbor meat on Friday, in exchange for water from his neighbor’s well and milk from his cow. Gas and electricity have been out for days.

“The signal in this area is not great and I only get [my phone] charged once a day by giving it to one of my neighbors who is draining his car battery to help out neighbors,” he said.

While around 20 people were hiding out in the man’s basement when the shelling first began, he’s now alone as it became too dangerous for his wife and daughter to return home after going out to get food.

“Nobody’s managed to get out of the city — none of my family. They’re all trapped in different areas. My wife, daughter, and my mother-in-law are at my mother-in-law’s apartment,” he said.

“I’m actually doing quite well as far as food and water goes. I’ve got a lot of wood for my little wood stove. I learned how to cook on a wood stove in the last couple of days.”

The man isn’t sure what will happen in the days ahead but he believes the best way to end the invasion is to encourage the Russian people to fight back against President Putin.

“It’s crazy. There have been some Russians who have surrendered and they say they were lied to. They’re sorry,” he added. “How can you say sorry for shooting at people? How can you say sorry for blowing up homes?”

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