A Manitoban currently in Ukraine is trying to find his way back home as he joins the countless Ukrainians fleeing the war-torn country.
Nikita Sereda, who is studying to become a priest, told Global News he’s currently with his father Sergey, waiting for any train that can take them to the Polish border.
Sereda said he was last in Canada over the holidays, before returning to Kharkiv, Ukraine, to continue his education.
“From January 31 until probably Feb. 22, it was quiet,” he said.
“Everything was business as normal. I just went to studies, went to school — and then on Feb. 22, when (Russian president Vladimir) Putin declared the Donetsk and Lugansk republics as independent, that is when tensions began.”
Sereda said he was awakened at 5 a.m. on Feb. 24 to the sound of tanks and explosions, with cluster bombs coming later that day to the city, which is around 40 km away from the Russia/Ukraine border.
He left the city two days later to a small community where his family members were staying, and since then, he’s been on the move — first to Lviv, in the western part of the country — taking a 13-hour, overcrowded train with his dad.
The plan for now, he said, is to get out of the country and find tickets to Winnipeg, while his father hopes to get back to Toronto.
Although he’s been largely safe from most of the military action thus far, Sereda said he’s seen some of the destruction the war has left in its wake — and is keeping abreast of the horrors happening in other parts of the country.
“Going to the train station today, we went through one area where it was mostly rubble — the apartment buildings and one military base. A few buildings that were bombed and destroyed,” he said.
“After the Russian army invaded, hospitals are being bombed, maternity wards are being bombed.
“The eastern region is where the occupied territories are — Russians are not letting people evacuate, not letting humanitarian aid go into the cities. Many children are dying.”
Sereda said he’s been staying in close contact with his mother, who is safely in Saskatchewan where she lives, and he’s hoping for a reunion soon.
Although Sereda was born in Manitoba and holds Canadian citizenship, so he isn’t affected by this news, the federal government said Thursday Canada has begun accepting applications from Ukrainians fleeing Russian aggression who want to come here.
The government is offering Ukrainians and their family members — regardless of their own nationality — the ability to stay for three years in Canada while deciding whether or not to apply to stay permanently.