A British expat living in Ukraine is refusing to leave because UK officials won’t help evacuate his Ukrainian wife with him – and says dogs were given more priority in Kabul.
Thomas Jones, 52, moved to Ukraine in 2015 where he met and married his wife, Iryna, 47, the following year.
Mr Jones, who moved to Ukraine to work and start up his business in Lviv, known as the IT hub center in Ukraine, is now being urged to leave the country by the British Government – but is struggling to take his wife with him.
On Saturday, the British Embassy moved from capital city Kiev to western capital Lviv as invasion fears mount.
But Thomas states the Home Office expect expats to travel to Kiev to get their documents for traveling back to the UK.
Thomas says they are being told a war is imminent “any day now” – as Lviv is readying itself for the impending threat.
But he says while the embassy is urging him to leave he says can’t take his wife with him – so he is staying.
To travel from Lviv to Kyiv – where the pair are expected to visit to obtain their documents to get home – is a six-hour journey by train, and Thomas admits is “far from easy”.
Thomas said: ”Dogs can be evacuated from Kabul but they can’t get British citizens and their family out of Ukraine – it’s crazy.
“Kyiv is a very dangerous and strategic place for terrorists or bombs.
“There is no way I am taking my wife to the capital – where they have moved from for safety – I do not want to be caught there when bombs start dropping.
“If you want to help me as a British citizen don’t send me to the place where war is going to kick off at any moment.
“The British Government have offered to wave my Visa fee, which is great, but they are making it nearly impossible to take my Ukrainian wife with me. ”
The couple, who have been married six years, recently moved from Kyiv to Lviv, and are currently staying 20 minutes outside of the city “until they can get out the country”.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office have sent out several emails to all British Nationals in Ukraine on February 18, strongly suggesting they leave the country.
The email said: “The FCDO continues to advise against all travel to Ukraine and advises British nationals in Ukraine to leave now.
“Some airlines have now suspended flights to and from Ukraine, but commercial routes remain available, particularly from Lviv.”
Thomas is a freelance copywriter, English teacher, and support volunteer for Ukrainian army veterans and Iryna is a financial director for Premier Hotel Dnister in Lviv.
The two have a 20-year-old son, Synaislav, who is currently at university in Poland.
Mr Jones said: “Things are deteriorating here. Lviv is becoming a rallying point for expats, immigrants and Ukrainians.
“Hotels and B&B’s are getting booked up here and in surrounding areas like the Carpathian Mountains.
“The Home Office expect expats to travel to Kyiv to get our biometric details and documents submitted, which a lot of people are weary about going to due to the thought of the capitol being attacked.
“We are being told war is going to happen any day now – and I have been told to get out of the country.
“We were going to go and submit my wife’s docs but now have decided against it – as my wife is terrified of leaving Lviv and getting caught out in Kyiv if war breaks out.
“As a British citizen it is disgusting that they are making me jump through hoops but then sending me emails telling me to leave.
“I don’t ask for anything from England but I ask this.
“There are people who are in a lot worse situations than me – and they need help, we all do.
“You tell your citizens to sign on to these things and get out but then make it extremely difficult – we could deal with documentation in England – not in Ukraine.
“We have noticed there has been RAF globe master plans, that have a capacity of 150 people, but they are not taking anything – or anyone – out, they are just bringing stuff in.
“There is no one to even advice me, I am constantly calling numbers who are transferring me to someone else.
“The whole thing is upsetting and I feel as though we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.”
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