British man ‘worried’ for wife’s safety after UK nationals told to leave Ukraine

Britons have been told to leave Ukraine immediately over growing concerns that Russia could launch an invasion in the coming days.

11 February 2022

A British man has said he feels “worried” for the safety of his wife in Ukraine after the Foreign Office advised UK nationals to leave the country on Friday.

Gary Smith, 53, moved back to Newcastle for work in August after living in Ukraine for two years with his wife, who is a lecturer at a university there.

The Foreign Office updated its advice on Friday evening to urge UK nationals to “leave now while commercial means are still available”.

Mr Smith told the PA news agency: “I loved living out there, the people are really nice. I am just hoping and praying that there isn’t an invasion.

“If there is, a lot of lives will be lost, many people will die.

“My wife said to me the other week ‘I don’t want to be killed.’ What are you supposed to say to that?”

Mr Smith last visited his wife, who was born in Russia but lives in Ukraine, in December and spent the festive period with her before flying home last month.

He is currently working as a telephone executive and said his decision to move back to the UK was to earn more money.

Mr Smith said: “I moved back to the UK to make a better life for us here and she was meant to join me within the next year or two.

“If (the invasion) happens it could end up being three or four years before I can see her again.

“I was speaking to her on the phone last night and making plans for her to come over to the UK for my birthday in May but that won’t happen now.

“She’s been my wife for two-and-a-half years but we have been together since 2012.”

Britons have been told to leave Ukraine immediately over growing concerns that Russia could launch an invasion in the coming days.

The order was issued as intelligence and advice from experts on the ground suggested an increased threat level, with an invasion at some point deemed highly likely, the PA news agency understands.

Mr Smith said he feels “sad and worried” about the developing situation in the country and said he “doesn’t trust” Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He added: “Once these exercises around the border are finished I hope he might turn his troops around and go back. I am just hoping and praying that he does that.”

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