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A terrified family in Ukraine said they are experiencing a “living nightmare” of being forced to cower in their “dream home” from gunfire and shellings as Russian troops flood their rebel-run region of the country.
The family of four, including girls aged 13 and eight, told The Sun that they have no power and are forced to sleep in a blacked-out, windowless corridor of the home in Donetsk that they started building in 2011.
“We thought we’d found our dream home but now it’s a living nightmare,” said 38-year-old coal miner “Alexei,” whose name was changed by the UK paper to protect his family.
“Much of Donetsk now has no electricity or water,” he said of the region, one of two that Russia has declared as being independent to justify sending in so-called “peacekeeping” troops.
“We have now gone two days without electricity and can only stay in touch with the outside world by charging the phone in our car.”
His 36-year-old wife, Natalia — whose name was also changed — said that they sleep in the corridor because they do not have a basement. But at times even that does not seem safe enough.
“When the shelling gets heavy we run to our neighbor’s basement,” Natalia told The Sun, saying that “at night it’s very loud.”
“The children have somehow learned to sleep through the noise … but I stay awake because I’m afraid for them. It’s so scary,” she said.
“We want to live like normal people. We have done nothing to deserve being used as human shields.”
Natalia said they regularly see uniformed troops in the street, but do not know if they are separatists or Russians. Her husband also fears being enlisted by Donetsk’s rebel leaders to fight on behalf of the Kremlin.
They have so far shunned the offer to evacuate to Russia. “Why would we go there? There is nothing for us there and we are Ukrainian, not Russian,” Alexei said.
They now “dread” the inevitable escalation of terror in the region if Ukraine decides to fight back, Natalia said.
“I’m very afraid this will turn into a big war,” she told the UK paper.
“This is not our war. We did not start it and we do not want to participate in it.”