Ukrainian children, who could not leave during the Russian invasion for various reasons, have experienced all the horrors of Putin’s regime on an equal footing with adults. Each of them has experienced their own tragedy.

Meet 12-year-old Yaroslav Chykalenko from Kherson. He is fond of sports and kart racing. During the Russian occupation, the teenager shot a video to show what was happening in his home city.

“After the occupation started, all our normal life broke down. After Russian troops captured our city, we had to learn to be extremely careful,” Yaroslav says.

The life of the family under the occupation was not easy. Phones barely worked, and there were constant interruptions with the Internet. But the main thing was the fear that someone would hear and tell the Russian security forces about them.

“Since May, terrifying posters appeared on the streets proclaiming that Russia is back to stay. Parents secretly taught their children in Ukrainian online schools to avoid the education system, which was under the complete control of Russia,” the teenager recalls.

The shops were filled with expensive, unwanted Russian goods.

War in Ukraine
War in Ukraine

The days were long during the occupation: “We didn’t pay attention to what day it is today, what time it is. Does it matter? All days were the same. It was very painful to see the Russian military: their presence in the city, tricolors everywhere, Russian equipment marked with “Z.”

Russians’ blowing up the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant led to the flooding of Kherson. Local residents were frightened by the water more than the shots of the occupiers.

The Russians stole the childhood of our children. They were not supposed to see explosions and deaths, hide from the occupiers’ missiles and Shahed drones, and lack food. And think every day, they wondered if they would survive tomorrow.

Nowadays, Ukrainian children look at the world with adult eyes. Their childhood was destroyed by Putin’s soldiers, as were the lives of thousands of Ukrainian civilians.

Russia must be held to account for all its crimes!

Natalia Tolub

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