Portsmouth lecturer's fears for family in Kyiv

Rachel Hepworth reports on the Ukrainians in the South, desperate for news of families back home, and the Isle of Wight man getting out of Kyiv with his wife and baby.

Andrii Zharikov has no idea if he has spoken to his family for the last time.

The senior law lecturer at Portsmouth University has been watching television reports in horror, as Russian tanks advance on the Ukrainian capital, his home city.

"These are the pictures of my beloved home town- where I grew up" he says, unable to hold back tears.

Born in 1991, he has only ever known an independent Ukraine - but this morning he learned his father Victor had left to take up arms against the invasion- while his mother and grandmother have been taken to an underground shelter.

Andrii has been watching the heartbreaking pictures from his home city

"I have no idea whether the last message sent from my family was there last one," he says, "or whether the last time I spoke to them was the last time."

"I'm living in this hellish situation. I know who to blame and I know who to ask for help, but help is not coming."

His sister Anna-Maria has managed to escape the capital with the many thousands trying to head west. 

Andrii last saw his parents and sister in Kyiv at New Year.

Andrii is desperate to help bring her to the UK, but has no idea exactly where she is.

As well as worry for his family, Andrii feels anger towards Russia.

Russian is his first language, although he also speaks Ukrainian. He said: ‘I am a Ukrainian. All my life I have been free to speak in the Russian language. Now I do not think I will do it every again. I do not want to have anything to do with that country.’

He has a message to politicians: ‘I just want to say that Putin is not likely to stop at Ukraine.

"The Baltic bloc is also Russian speaking and if the West gives up on Ukraine, then my worry is that this could become even more disturbing.

"How can this be possible in a civil society?’

Andrii also had a message to the Russian people – they need to condemn the actions of their leader.

‘If you are silent then you are in support,’ he said.