Conflicts & War

The Russian man fighting for Ukraine

By Luis Lidon

Kharkiv, Ukraine, Jun 26 (EFE).- Yevhenii, a Russian man fighting against his own country for Ukraine, tears up as he remembers his father’s last words to him over the phone: “If you stay in Kharkiv, I hope our soldiers find you and kill you.”

Since February, the 48-year-old has had no further contact with his father, who lives in the Russian city of Smolensk.

He also broke up with most of his friends in Russia.

“Many people in Russia don’t believe what’s happening here until you send them a photo and then some of them say, ‘you guys are shooting at yourselves, the Ukrainian troops are bombing their own,'” he says.

Yevhenii is known by his nickname Magadan, after the Russian town located on the Sea of Okhotsk in Nagayev Bay where he was born.

Despite being Russian, Yevhenii wears a Ukrainian uniform and serves as a communications officer in the Kharkiv Materyk Battalion.

In the northern area of the hard-hit Saltivka neighborhood of Kharkiv, both his and his 25-year-old daughter’s apartments have been destroyed by missiles.

“Russia has freed me from my apartment,” he says sarcastically.

The block where his flat was, has been scorched.

The apartment complex’s foyer is now a large crater and everything is covered in broken glass and debris.

“I’ve remembered my life here,” he says of the flat where he lived for 12 years.

“I never thought they would do this. I still have a hard time believing it. Sometimes it seems like I’m in a nightmare, that all of this isn’t real,” he adds.

Even though he has a Russian passport, Yevhenii, who has been in Kharkiv since he was 15 years old, considers Ukraine his homeland.

Before the war, he was a professor at Kharkiv University of Air Force.

He enlisted in Ukraine’s army on February 24, the same day Russia invaded.

“I have spent more than half of my life in Ukraine, it is my homeland and I also have the nationality,” he explains.

Yevhenii’s story is not unusual, especially among those who were born in the Soviet Union.

At that time, many people from the eastern part of Russia lived in Kharkiv because they were offered apartments there.

Many people, not only in Russia but in Europe, do not believe that this is happening in Ukraine. They deny that the Russian army bombs civilian areas.

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