Edinburgh dad makes heartbreaking decision in Poland after fleeing Ukraine with young family


An Edinburgh father forced to flee his home in Ukraine with his young son after an air base a few miles away was attacked by Russian forces safely crossed the border into Poland.

Ken Stewart says he is now desperate to bring his wife Tania, daughter Yaryna and two-week-old Douglas to Scotland after running from their home 40 miles from Kiev amid the Kremlin’s invasion of the country .

The 54-year-old spent nearly two days queuing with thousands of others desperate to escape the fighting after making the heartbreaking decision to leave many of Tania’s loved ones behind.

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They are now facing a long wait for his visa application to be decided and remain stuck in Poland until that call is made in the UK.

And Ken admitted he had no idea what the immediate future held for his young family.

He told the Daily Record: “We are the lucky ones.

“Save a thought for those thousands of people who are still in this queue, and for many other lines from Moldova to Poland.

“I haven’t seen anyone lose it, no fighting, no selfishness but a feeling of being all together.”

He added: “Ukrainians are an example for the world to follow.

“I imagine you all get that by now.

“They seem to be built differently than the rest of us.

“Yara, our three-year-old, should be a role model for children around the world.

Ken and Tania are desperate to escape any conflict

“She kept a smile on her face most of the time and never really complained. She clearly takes after her mother.”

The couple had already started the process to obtain a British visa for Tanya.

But they were offered a meeting at the British Embassy in Kiev on Friday, the day after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack across Ukraine.

Although as the wife of a British citizen she is eligible for a visa, the family does not know how easy or quick the process will be.

Ken added: “Today we are torn between relief at having brought our children to safety and guilt at having left so many behind.

“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions.

“Our children drove those decisions. Completely.”

He added: “We left behind in-laws – Tanya’s parents, brother, wife and 10-year-old son.

“Leaving him there hurts but they wanted to stay together.

“They now spend their days in a bomb shelter in the basement of a kindergarten in our village.

“The shelling and shelling in the surrounding area is holding them back.

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“What keeps our hopes alive is the fact that the Russians have met their match, more so than their match against the Ukrainians.

“They won’t leave the country without a tough fight.

“They are literally fighting for the survival of their country.”

Ken said the family was moving into a hotel, where they were taking hot showers after the arduous journey.

He added: “Then we’ll get down to getting Tanya a visa for the UK. As if we don’t have enough to worry about.

“My wife is Ukrainian and I am a British citizen – both children have British citizenship.

“But the UK government absolutely refuses to facilitate the process for my wife to get a visa.

The Scottish government has urged the Home Office to lift visa requirements for all Ukrainians wishing to enter the UK.

It is understood that the UK is reviewing its Ukrainian refugee scheme.


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