When Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 24-year-old Daria Molchan from the eastern city of Sumy said she called her mother living an hour away in Russia to tell her what was happening.
But her mother refused to believe her, Molchan said tearfully after a three-day journey from Sumy to the Polish city of Przemysl on Friday (March 11).
“I stopped talking to her” Molcan said, saying that her mother, who moved from Ukraine to Russia, was “brainwashed” by what she was seeing on Russian television.
Speaking at Przemysl’s train station, Molchan said thousands of people had been trying to flee Sumy but there were not enough buses to take them.
Civilians fled besieged Sumy on Tuesday (March 8) in the first successful “humanitarian corridor” opened since Russia’s invasion.
“There is no life now” in Sumy, just over the border from Russia, Molchan said. She said she had not felt able to stay in the city but said those who had were “heroes”.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Friday Ukraine had reached a “strategic turning point” in the conflict with Russia, but Russian forces bombarded cities across the country and appeared to be regrouping for a possible assault on the capital Kyiv.
(Production: Gabriele Pileri, Roberto Mignucci, Lewis Macdonald)