Ukraine: ‘I’m not a soldier, I’m a citizen at war’ | World News
Wednesday marked exactly six months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine.
The UN estimates that about 12 million people have been displaced in that time. Among them is the family of Kyiv resident Ilyas Verdiev, who was only recently granted permission to break a national travel ban on all males aged 18 to 60 and visit his wife and sons who fled in Poland.
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But despite enjoying cherished and long-awaited family time in safe surroundings, the IT specialist touches on a wider turmoil rooted in an ever-growing sense of surging nationalism.
“To be honest, I don’t want to go home,” Ilyas explains. “And I don’t want to go back to my empty house, because it doesn’t feel like home when it’s empty, you wake up every morning and there is no one making a noise.
“No one is running around chasing, preparing, taking breakfast. It’s just you in there.
“But on the other hand I want to be in Kyiv. It’s really weird, because I feel like I belong there more.
“I don’t know how to explain that. Kyiv is home, Ukraine is home.”
Verdiev, along with fellow citizens Oksana and Seva began documenting their personal experiences of life in a warzone through a series of audio diaries shortly after the Russian invasion.
Throughout that time, his dream of being reunited with his family has been a constant thought on his mind. Yet, months of war have brought with it myriad personal conflicts.
“I just don’t know how to be here, in the quiet of Poland, in a quiet place, knowing there is war going on,” he continued.
“Obviously I’m helping the army, I’m still donating. But it feels like you have to be there even though I’m not a soldier. This is the vortex of feelings I have now.”
This week the Ukraine War Diaries podcast marked its one millionth listen on the 31st anniversary of Ukraine’s independence from Russia.
From the creators of Sky News’ award-winning StoryCast, Ukraine War Diaries is a weekly podcast following those living on Europe’s new frontline, and those who have escaped it.
Producer: Robert Mulhern
Digital promotion and additional writing: Soila Apparicio