‘I am incredibly nervous’: The Bristol Uni student who has successfully fled Ukraine with his family

Kolia has fled Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, after a harrowing journey following the Russian invasion

Kolia woke up yesterday morning at around 5am to the sound of explosions as Russia bombed the airport and military base just outside his town in Ukraine.

Known by his nickname, Kolia is a third year computer science student at Bristol Uni. Like most final year students, he was looking forward to going travelling and having fun over the summer before starting work.

His world has been turned upside down.

After driving across half the country with his family yesterday, Kolia has managed to flee to neighbouring Poland. He made it across the border this morning, where they were welcomed by local residents offering food and shelter.

The rest of his family are staying behind, preparing, stocking up food and water.

‘Leaving people is a difficult decision’

Kolia, who is from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, told The Bristol Tab how he managed to flee with his family.

After waking to the sounds of explosions, he travelled by car towards the Polish border, where serious traffic blocked the roads.

His family had to walk for nearly two hours to the border, where they waited another nine hours in a queue to cross.

Most of his family has remained in the country, following the government’s advice to stock up on food and water, uncertain about what the future holds for them.

Kolia told The Bristol Tab: “[I am feeling] incredibly nervous, while I could survive I’m sure, not just military action but martial law makes me worry for my family.

“Because I am able to go, and I know the better choice for everyone is for me to go, leaving people is a difficult decision, and I’m sure that’s what people feel.”

Already there are long queues for petrol and cash Kolia confirmed, with some ATMs imposing a withdrawal limit and rural petrol stations only accepting cash. He said that in the countryside the situation isn’t too bad, but in the cities, the situation is worse.

Thousands of Ukrainians are trying to leave the country, with serious traffic blocking up the roads around cities. Kolia and his family left in the early hours of yesterday morning, mere hours after the first attacks. This picture shows a car in Ukraine with makeshift license plates, attempting to flee the country.

Cars with makeshift license plates

Kolia reported there have been multiple civilian casualties, which are now being announced on the radio. These are usually in small numbers, but frequently across the entire country.

“Usually along line of ‘in (a small town I’ve not heard of) there are five to ten people wounded, two to five killed’, and then there are tens of these towns,” he said.

The situation in Ukraine is everchanging, a list of possible ways to help can be found here.

The University of Bristol is also urging students who are affected by the conflict to reach and access their support services, a list of university support services can be found here.

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