Ukrainian man working for Leeds law firm on 'standby list' to fight Russia after going to native home for vacation

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A man living in Leeds who went to his native Ukraine for a skiing holiday fears he will become a “meat bag” - after he found himself conscribed into the country's military.

Tymofii Dmytrenko, 39, went on the family vacation with his wife and two kids but has now been put on standby to fight Russian forces following the invasion eight days ago.

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The IT specialist, known as Tim, said he had originally left the UK for Kyiv on February 18, intending to hit the slopes and visit his parents during a ten-day visit.

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After an epic journey, Tim helped his wife Iryna, 36, and their two kids, 11 and 15, get into neighbouring Slovakia.After an epic journey, Tim helped his wife Iryna, 36, and their two kids, 11 and 15, get into neighbouring Slovakia.
After an epic journey, Tim helped his wife Iryna, 36, and their two kids, 11 and 15, get into neighbouring Slovakia.

But after the family heard President Biden warning about the threat of invasion, they cut their holiday short and attempted to flee for the border.

After an epic journey, Tim helped his wife Iryna, 36, and their two kids, 11 and 15, get into neighbouring Slovakia, and there are now safely back in the UK.

But heartbreakingly, the father has been forced to sign up for the military and remains poised to join the war as all men aged 18 to 60 are now required to stay and fight.

Tim, who has never held a gun in his life, says at this moment he fears he will become a “meat bag” if he is put into an active combat situation.

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He said: “I think I am ready to serve my country, but I have mixed feelings.

“I have never held a gun or shot from it, and I don’t have any real military experience.

“I feel like without any proper training I’m kind of a meat bag at this moment in time, and this is worrying. I don’t know how these things will progress.

He added: “It’s still a shock to many people here. We still don’t understand that this can be happening in the middle of Europe, next to the European Union.

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Tim, who has lived in the parish of Horsforth, Leeds, since 2015 said he had set off for the ten-day family trip on February 18.

He said: “We have parents living in Ukraine, and basically we usually combine leisure trips with seeing family and friends.

“We came to Kyiv on February 18 and spent two days there, and then we went to a ski resort and spent a few days there.

“But everything was changing very quickly, and we decided it was probably better to fly back from Lviv, and we bought new tickets to fly on February 25.

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However, Tim and his family’s plans unravelled a day before they were set to come back to Britain after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

He, like millions of refugees, then became stuck in the Western part of the Country but they did managed to get take a taxi to Uzhhorod, near the border with Slovakia.

He said: “We spent roughly four hours queuing for fuel because when the taxi came to us, its tank was nearly empty. The queues were absolutely massive.

“When we came to Uzhhorod, we then waited for a bus for two hours with our kids. The estimated arrival time was 11:30 pm, but it didn’t come.”

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Tim later contacted a friend living in a nearby city, and at 1:00 am on February 25, he collected them and allowed them to sleep in his apartment for the night.

The following morning, he managed to book tickets for his wife and two children to get a bus to a small town over the border with Slovakia.

But due to martial law that the Ukrainian government had passed a day after Russia invaded – requiring all men between 18 and 60 to join the army - Tim was unable to go with them.

He said: “I put my wife and kids on that bus at 4 pm, and it was a heart-breaking moment for me and my family.

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“Everyone was crying, my kids were crying, my wife was crying. I wasn’t able to stop crying for a few hours after that. But luckily, they got through the border.

After saying his goodbyes, Tim went to the military registration office, where he was put on standby to join the war against advancing Russian troops.

But even if he does go into an active military role, he fears that men like him won’t prevent Russia’s march across the continent for long.

He said: “In my opinion, this is World War Three. If we lose, hypothetically, then Europe will get a mad man next to its borders who has a nuclear weapon.

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“He will carry on and will be threatening Latvia, Lithuania – countries like that until it’s World War Three anyway, so it’s just a delay to me.

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