‘Are they going to come and kill me?’ Children in UK fear Putin’s deadly war in Ukraine

“Do you think they are going to come and kill me?” a seven-year-old asked his British-Ukrainian father shortly after the war with Russia broke out.

Almost two months have passed since the war in Ukraine began, killing thousands and creating millions of refugees.

Disturbing images of suspected war crimes have been shared around the world, and inevitably the conflict has an impact on children growing up in an age of renewed nuclear fear.

Volodymyr Muzyczka, a board member of the UK-based Association of Ukrainians, was looking forward to visiting Ukraine at Easter with his family, having missed out on seeing relatives back home for the three years due to the pandemic.

But instead of playing with his cousins in his father’s homeland, his seven-year-old son is “continually worried” about the war.

“When everything kicked off we tried to keep [information] from him as much as possible, we wouldn’t listen to the news, we turned the radio down,” he said.

After hearing people talk about the war at school, Mr Muzyczka’s son came home very upset, worried the Russian army would come to kill him, “because I’m Ukrainian and I’ve been to Ukraine”.

“It takes you down blind alley,” the 60-year-old said, as he spoke about how difficult it is to have such conversations with a child.

His son also asked him what a nuclear bomb was one night as he was falling asleep, having heard friends at school talk about it.

Fears of a full-blown nuclear war were triggered after Vladimir Putin put his nuclear deterrent forces on high alert in the first few weeks of war.

“There are some kids whose TV is on at home and the kids have taken it in via osmosis, and then sometimes kids are nasty and may bring it up in a way that is hurtful.

“He’s had a few incidents like that.”

Olena Davie, 44, a British Ukrainian mother of two teenage girls, said her daughters had also experienced upsetting encounters with their classmates about the conflict.

When the war broke out in February, Ms Davie said her girls were “heartbroken, of course”.

“They were crying a lot and supporting me,” she said. “Their cousin had to cross the border with just her dog and a little suitcase- she’s just 15.”

Russia Ukraine War

But considering the difficult news they were confronted with, they were saddened by the lack of awareness from local children.

“They came home from school and were quite upset cause other kids were just laughing and making jokes about it,” Ms Davie said as she revealed her youngest daughter, aged 13, felt the need to defend Ukraine to her class.

“Some of her classmates were laughing at bombs falling in Ukraine, she was quite emotional.

“She stood up in the class and said ‘How dare you? You don’t know what’s happening, you don’t know the fears’.

Young Ukrainian refugees passes through the final gate to Poland after crossing the border point from Ukraine

Sean Connolly comforted a six-year-old girl in his class after her mother told him that she was very upset about the war

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