‘Ukraine has shown incredible unity and power’
Ukrainian national Iryna Danilova who used to live in Old Bawn now lives in Adamstown

‘Ukraine has shown incredible unity and power’

A UKRAINIAN woman who lives in Adamstown said she is “devastated” by the war in her home country, but is proud of her parents and extended family for remaining in the embattled country while preparing to fight off any Russian advances in their city of Odesa.

The ongoing invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces has sent shockwaves around the world, as air strikes continue to hit the city of Kharkiv, while many residents of the capital, Kyiv, are now living in makeshift bunkers in the city’s underground metro stations amid the frequent sound of air raid sirens and shelling.

Ukrainian national Iryna Danilova, 35, moved to Ireland eight years ago and first lived in Old Bawn, Tallaght, before moving to Adamstown in Lucan several years ago.

Ms Danilova said news of the Russian forces’ advancement into Ukraine has been devastating for her and her husband, Sergii Danilov, 40, and their two children, Nikita, ten, who was born in Ukraine, and five-year-old Peter.

“In the last few weeks, hundreds of thousands of Russian troops were put across the border, so we could see what was coming,” Ms Danilova told The Echo.

“But when I read the news of the invasion on the 24th of February, I just couldn’t believe it. When I was reading it on my phone, I had to sit on the stairs because I couldn’t move anymore.”

While Mr Danilov’s mother, brother and his brother’s family have fled Ukraine and are currently in Poland ahead of flying to Dublin on Friday, Ms Danilova’s family have chosen to remain in Odesa.

“It’s not as bad in Odesa yet, but my parents said there are Russian warships near the coast,” said Ms Danilova.

“My mam, my dad, my aunty and my uncle are there, and they’re saying it’s not as bad there as it is in Kharkiv and Kyiv.

“But they said it’s still eerily quiet there sometimes and they expect more to come. They’re stockpiling things like food and firewood, but they’re ready to fight.

“They refuse to leave. We sent them money so they could get a taxi to the border, but they want to stay and fight.

“I’m devastated. I don’t think there are words for this. I’m extremely afraid for my family’s safety, but at the same time, I respect their decision to stay and fight.”

The unusual silence in Odesa that Ms Danilova’s family described is a far cry from the normal day-to-day atmosphere that used to exist in the city, previously a thriving metropolis of over a million people.

“During the summer, Odesa becomes a big disco city,” explained Ms Danilova.

“We have lots of discos along the coast, it’s like a little Ibiza.

“There’s lots of Italian and Greek architecture, and there is a very rich cultural life in Odesa too. There’s also a very intense business life there, because there are a lot of technology companies.”

However, now it’s a city where residents are preparing for war as the Russian onslaught continues across Ukraine, despite the outcry from the international community and escalating sanctions being applied to Russia by the EU and the US.

“I think Russia misunderstood us a lot,” said Ms Danilova. “Ukraine has shown incredible unity and power – but I’m not surprised by that, I’m really proud of my country.”

When asked what people in Ireland can do to help those in Ukraine, Ms Danilova said they could donate to the Ukrainian army and humanitarian aid agencies, and they could consider opening up their homes to refugees fleeing the war.

“I know it’s a big ask,” said Ms Danilova, “but, these days, I don’t have any shame – I’ll ask for what we need.

“But we are extremely grateful to the Irish people for opening up their borders and homes and helping.

“People, from neighbours to local schools, have been helping and collecting stuff for refugees. I’ve said ‘thank you’ so much over the last few days, I’ve never said it so much in my life before.

“We will finish this war, and we will rebuild Ukraine. When this is over, we’ll invite the Irish over to Ukraine.”

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