Relief for Ennis-based Ukrainian as family members escape war

A Ukrainian woman has expressed her relief after members of her family managed to escape from their hometown of Irpin, which is besieged by Russian forces, as the war against Ukraine escalates.

Mariya Nikishanova, who lives in Ennis, tried to help her mother, Nataliia (70), her sister, Olanna and her niece to safety from their home in Irpin.

Barring any unexpected setbacks, they are to fly from Warsaw to Shannon on Thursday before being transported to Mariya’s home in Ennis.

In an interview with the Clare Champion, she said her family had to flee Irpin because it was no longer safe to stay here following the arrival of Russian tanks on the streets of her town.

For Russian forces, the town on the northwestern outskirts of kyiv is considered vital to capture for a possible push deeper into the capital in their attempt to capture the seat of Ukrainian government.

In an attempt to block a possible Russian advance, Ukrainian forces blew up the bridge over the Irpin River to block a key gateway to Kyiv.

Mariya recalled that her sister and niece left Irpin in a car on Friday and arrived in Warsaw on Saturday afternoon.

On Saturday, her mother traveled separately by train from Irpin in Kyiv to Lviv where she took a bus to the Polish border.

Amidst thousands of other fleeing refugees, she had to wait approximately three hours for passport control before being picked up by a Polish volunteer who drove her and three other people to Warsaw where she was reunited with her girl.

“We had a good development because my mother, my sister and my niece managed to reach Warsaw.

“Poles help Ukrainians by taking them for free by car from the Polish border to Warsaw.

“I am relieved that my mother, my sister and my niece are now safe in Warsaw. It’s much better for them now. They will arrive at my house on Thursday after flying from Warsaw to Shannon Airport. I can’t wait to see them on Thursday.

“It is very difficult to watch what happens during the war. Irpin is now one of the worst places to be. There are Russian tanks in my streets.

“My mother’s husband also left Irpin’s house to walk to Kyiv because it is no longer possible to stay there.”

Mariya’s family members are among tens of thousands expected to arrive in Ireland over the next few weeks.

Poland’s prime minister has estimated that 1.2 million people have arrived at his border since the Russian invasion began, with border guards processing more than 140,000 new entrants earlier this week.

Six years ago, Mariya came to live in Clare following in the footsteps of her husband, Sergii, when he got a job as a software engineer with Intel in Shannon.

The couple, who live in Ennis, have two children aged five and eight. Mariya was born in Irpin, located about 20 kilometers from kyiv, where she resided for a few years.

On February 21, she planned to travel to Ukraine to celebrate her mother’s 70th birthday on Monday, but was unable to go due to the outbreak of war.

By Dan Danher

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