Alina will never forget the words written in red block letters when she turned on the news one fateful morning in February last year: “Putin started the war.” As a journalist living in kyiv, she had heard all the predictions that an invasion by Russian forces was imminent, but her brain didn’t want to believe it, she says.

Now living with a ‘beautiful’ family in Altrincham, the 32-year-old recalls the appalling conditions she endured for six months, sheltering in the cold corridors of her apartment block and in her dank basement, before moving to Greater Manchester on last summer. One year after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine, her message to Greater Manchester is simple: “Thank you.”

“It is important that we understand that we are not alone,” he said. “Ukrainians are very brave people, Ukrainians are very strong.

READ MORE: A year after the war, how Greater Manchester embraced Ukraine and its people

“But it’s very important for us to have this inner feeling that we’re not alone and we’re grateful for all the people around the world who support us.”

Speaking at a press conference called by Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham on the anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Alina Kostrubitska explained what life is like in kyiv now. Having visited the city where her husband and her mother still live for the first time since they left six months ago, she reported that her hometown looks “a little different” today.

The downtown area smells like gasoline, he told the news conference, because of the generators that power businesses instead of electricity. Traffic lights also don’t work at night for the same reason, he explained.


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