The first refugees from Ukraine arrived in Greece

The testimonies of citizens who fled the zone of military conflict are shocking: “We did not expect Putin to strike. We live in the 21st century. Who expected this to happen?”

It was 4:00 am on February 24, when the phone of 51-year-old Arina rang in the city of Vinnitsa. “Putin has struck,” she was told on the other end of the telephone line. “My husband and I literally jumped in the van and went to pick up the kids. I had to give up everything just to stay alive, ”the woman says to the Greek publication GRTimes.

It was this moment that determined the future of the Pyankovsky family. Their Odyssey began unexpectedly: “We did not expect Putin to strike. We live in the 21st century. Who would have thought that he would invade another country?”

“Greece is one of the ways for us”

Arina, her husband Vladimir, two daughters, Alexandra and Nicole, as well as two grandchildren – 5-year-old David and 9-year-old Sofia, along with four dogs and a turtle, traveled on their minibus from Ukraine to Greece for 66 hours, with their destination Aridea at Pella. “We have friends here. We have been coming to Greece for many years,” explains Arina, owner of a nursery in Vinitsa. “Our friends were kind enough to invite us to visit them for as long as needed. For us, Greece and Pella were the only way to escape,” she adds.

50 km queue at the border, without money and gasoline

The exhausted refugees made a stop in Thessaloniki before continuing on to their final destination, Aridea. “We are really exhausted, but at the same time very glad that we are now safe,” says Alexandra.

Her mother adds: “We struggled to cross the border. In addition, we were worried about the fate of relatives and friends whom we left behind. “In fact, we were left without money, as transactions were “blocked” (the restriction on issuing money in Ukraine per day from 1 card is about 3,000 hryvnias – editorial note). The amount of gasoline was minimal. Our only hope was to have time to go abroad.”

“On the border with Moldova, where we finally arrived, the cars lined up in a queue 50 kilometers long. All night people waited to cross it. It was a real shock for everyone, ”Arina describes her ordeals in an almost trembling voice.

Their journey to their final destination, Aridea, comes to an end. Sophia, 9, takes a nap in the van, while David, 5, took the opportunity to run a bit in the parking lot where they parked to “take a breath.”

“Are we moving?” he asks his mother, not understanding what is happening… “The kids are tired. All they want is to eat a hot meal and sleep,” Alexandra explains.

“Tomorrow” seems too vague for them. “We don’t know anything. How long we will have to stay in Greece, how long the war will continue. When will we see ours again…,” says Arina, lowering her eyes, and then declares that she is proud of President Zelensky: “He has always been honest with us. He did not leave the country, he is close to everyone. He didn’t lie and never left us…”



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