A Ukrainian lecturer working in the North East has told of shock and stress at the turmoil in his home country.
A crisis enveloped Dr Viktor Korolchuk’s home country this week after Russian President Vladimir Putin send thousands of troops into the southern Ukrainian state of Crimea.
It came after months of unrest in the country which saw President Viktor Yanukovych forced from power.
President Putin says the troops are there to protect the Russian people in Ukraine, but the UK, US and France says the move is against international law and talks were underway yesterday to bring calm to the region.
Dr Korolchuck, who is a lecturer in neurobiology at Newcastle University, said he is worried for friends and family in the country.
“They are all very concerned about the invasion,” he said yesterday. “Everybody accepts that this is an invasion and nobody sees this any differently.
“Lots of my friends who are still able to be recruited back into the army are obviously concerned that they should be going back into combat.
“Nobody wants this. The events that are happening now are after what everybody sees as a moral victory over the dictatorship of Yanukovych.
“I think this was unexpected for many.
“People were taken by surprise by Putin’s decision to bring the troops to Crimea.”
The academic, who studied at Kiev State University before taking a job in Tyneside, told how he has been unable to concentrate on his work.
He had wanted to return to Ukraine during the unrest and is now concerned the arrival of the soldiers could lead to Ukraine and Russia going to war.
“I’m worried about a real war, not even a cold war,” Dr Korolchuck said.
He added: “I was very shocked and stressed for a while.
“I was following the revolution - if you call it that - for quite some time.
“In fact, I let it interfere with my professional duties because I was so emotionally involved.
“At some point, I even considered going back to Ukraine and taking part in that [the revolution].
“But now, I think the situation is completely different. This is no longer an internal affair.
“This is an emotion that you are being at war with a massive country next to you.
“This is not a pleasant feeling. Even though I’m not there, this feels scary.”
Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons this week the situation could escalate and urged Ukrainians not to be provoked by Putin’s move.
He said: “This continues to be a serious risk, particularly that deliberate provocation could give rise to a dangerous incident.
“I commend the Ukrainian authorities for refusing to rise to provocation.”