War in Ukraine: Londoners fear for loved ones as relatives report Russian invasion

Daniel Cojoc and his Ukrainian wife are scared for her mother who is currently alone in the port city of Odessa, where explosions went off last night.

Londoners with family trapped in Ukraine have told how they fear for their loved ones safety as they report shooting and bombs.

Last night, Russian forces launched a major military assault on Ukraine, with reports of missile strikes and explosions near major cities.

Tanks and troops have poured into Ukraine at points along its eastern, southern and northern borders, Ukraine says.

From left, Tatiana Orzherevskaya, with two of her grandchildren, her son-in-law, Daniel Cojac, and daughter Natalia. Photo: Supplied

Daniel Cojoc and his Ukrainian wife are scared for her mother who is currently alone in the port city of Odessa, where explosions went off last night.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia had carried out missile strikes on Ukraine’s infrastructure and on border guards.

Advertisement

Construction site manager Mr Cojoc, 50, originally from Romania, lives with his 46-year-old wife Natalia, and their three children, in Upton Park, Newham.

But Mrs Cojoc’s elderly mother, Tatiana Orzherevskaya, lives in Odessa, on the Black Sea.

Tatiana, left, with two of her grandchildren, and daughter Natalia. Photo: Supplied

“My mother in law said that the fire troops started intensifying on that zone over there,” Mr Cojoc said.

“She called us at about 2.30am (Ukrainian time) when the firing started over there and at around 4.30am she heard a bomb.

“One of my colleagues at work, his family are 50km away from Odessa, he said there are shots happening all the way over there.

Advertisement

“My mother-in-law told me that the shots have started to intensify.”

A Ukrainian military vehicle drives in central Kyiv on February 24, 2022. Air raid sirens rang out in downtown Kyiv today as cities across Ukraine were hit with what Ukrainian officials said were Russian missile strikes and artillery. Photo: Daniel LEAL / AFP.

Mr Cojoc and his wife are desperate to get her mother to the UK but it’s proving to be impossible since the borders have closed.

Meanwhile a frightened Brit currently living in Kharkiv, north-east Ukraine said he never expected his home to become a war zone.

John Peacock, a father of two, who lived and worked in London for 20 years, says he can hear explosions in the distance.

“There is no panic but people are buying water and food,” he told LondonWorld.

Advertisement

Mr Peacock lives in Kharkiv while Mr Cojoc’s mother-in-law lives in Odessa. Credit: Mark Hall

“For now we’ve been told to stay at home.

“I’m terrified to be honest as I never expected my home to become a war zone.

“I have just had a message from a Russian friend in St Petersburg expressing sympathy and horror.

“She says ordinary people there don’t support the war but there is nothing they can do.”

Advertisement

The Home Office has advised “immediate family members of British nationals in Ukraine” to call them for assistance before applying for a visa under the family migration route.

A visa application centre is now open in Lviv, Ukraine, for those eligible.

While Melinda Simmons, British ambassador to Ukraine said “I continue to work in Lviv with my team. I strongly advise British nationals to leave the country while commercial travel is available.

“Please contact us if you need advice or help on +380 44 490 3660 or check http://gov.uk for latest travel advice and info.”