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Ukrainian ‘anxious and concerned’ as threat of conflict worsens

Katya Gorbunova (Photograph supplied)

A Ukrainian national in Bermuda said she fears for the safety of her family as the nation’s conflict with Russia continued to worsen.

Katya Gorbunova, of Ernst & Young, said she has been in regular contact with her family, who live near the country’s western border with Poland.

She said: “I am anxious, I am concerned. My family is there, my friends are there.

“I am in touch with them pretty much every day and they are scared because they don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Ms Gorbunova said that while she has discussed worst-case-scenario plans with her family, they said they do not want to leave their homes.

She added: “They are still holding on to what they have. It’s hard.

“If it comes to that, I will do my best to convince them to leave for Poland or fly here, but for now I am constantly trying to figure out what the plan should be in the worst-case scenario.”

Ms Gorbunova said that until recently, many felt that Russia had been stoking fear in an effort to prevent Ukraine from joining Nato, but Russia’s actions this week were alarming.

She said: “We have had quite a few events similar to this, but nothing as bad as this.

“Russia has always wanted control over Ukraine, but after the Soviet Union fell apart Ukrainians felt very strongly about being independent, about having their own culture and language.

“We share a lot of common history and common culture with Russia, but we define ourselves as Ukrainian and that’s who we wanted to be.”

Ms Gorbunova said that as the conflict escalated, so has the support she has received on the island.

She said: “Everyone that knows me, Bermudians and people from other countries, every time I see them they ask about my family and everyone at home. They are just so supportive.”

After weeks of high tensions, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, ordered troops to enter the southeastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk this week.

Russia said it had recognised separatist regions near the Russian border as sovereign states and sent in soldiers for peacekeeping functions.

But US president Joe Biden has labelled the move the start of an invasion and raised concerns the movement could lay the groundwork for a wider military incursion.

Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, said yesterday the world was "facing a moment of peril" and called the situation in Ukraine "the most serious global peace and security crisis in recent years".

Several nations have announced a range of sanctions on Russia in an effort to discourage further action.

According to a notice from the Bermuda Monetary Authority, three Russian nationals and five Russian banks had been added to its sanctions list.

The sanctions were put in place by the HM Treasury’s Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation in the United Kingdom.

While about 780 Russian aircraft were registered in Bermuda as of late 2020, the Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority said that the sanctions had not impacted the island’s aircraft registry.

Thomas Dunstan, BCAA director-general, said: "The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority is keeping a close eye on the situation in Russia and will continue to remain in compliance with all sanctions put in place.

“As it currently stands, there has not been an impact on BCAA's business with our leasing company partners and Russian operators."

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Published February 24, 2022 at 7:57 am (Updated February 24, 2022 at 7:39 am)

Ukrainian ‘anxious and concerned’ as threat of conflict worsens

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