Ukrainians in Ireland: ‘I’m a civil engineer, not a soldier, but I will go back and fight’

Ukrainians In Ireland: ‘I’m A Civil Engineer, Not A Soldier, But I Will Go Back And Fight’
Ukrainian couple Alisa and Andrej Mitigan with their two-year-old daughter Mia in Limerick city. Photo: David Raleigh
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David Raleigh

A Ukrainian couple in Limerick have spoken of living in constant fear that their families in Ukraine will be killed in Russia’s invasion of the country.

Andrej and Alisa Mitigan, with their two-year-old daughter Mia, settled in Limerick a year and a half ago when Mr Mitigan, a civil engineer, began working for a local construction company.


Mr Mitigan (35) said he is prepared to go back to Ukraine to help defend it and protect his parents and brother, who have told him they have taken up arms and are sleeping in basements to avoid Russian missile strikes.

It comes as Ukrainian men and women from across Europe are returning home to help defend their homeland.

“I’m from Kyiv, my family are there - my father, mother, brother - and all of them are pushed to take the weapons to protect themselves, their lives," said Mr Mitigan.

“We don't want a war, Ukrainians love peace and democracy but the Russians are trying to destroy our country; everyday they are attacking us, killing us.


“I have parents, a brother, friends, my grandma and grandpa, they (sleep) in basements, and they are afraid because missiles have attacked (our city).”

'I want to protect them'

Becoming emotional, Mr Mitigan said: “My daughter is two years old, and yesterday she said to me, ‘Father, let’s draw a rocket’, and I cried.”

His family in Ukraine have already seen the worst of the war, he said, “they see how people die, and they hear rockets”.

“I want to protect them, and if the situation worsens I’m going to go back to Ukraine to protect them. I’m a civil engineer, I’m not a soldier, but I will go back and fight.


“I support our president because Russia’s rockets are not only killing our soldiers, they are hitting our houses, and even our kindergartens have been attacked; they are killing civilians, not only soldiers.”

Economic sanctions imposed on Russia are “not enough”, but Mr Mitigan said he believes Ukraine can defend itself without the need for Allied troops in the country, so long as Western powers continue to supply the country with military supports.

“Help us with weapons, because we are the last world between Russia and Europe, and if you look at the history of war, Hitler started with one country and then another, so if you (don’t) want to be the next one, (help us) do what we are doing right now.”

Mr Mitigan said he does not believe Russian president Vladimir Putin will start a nuclear war. “Putin, he lives in a bunker, and he looks like a very strong guy but he is not, he is afraid and he is scared for his own life.”


Friends and family

Alisa Mitigan, whose parents live close to the shell-shocked capital city Kyiv, said they are fully supportive of the orders of Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy that all males aged 18-60 must stay and defend their country.

“Of course I am worried for them, I don't know if I will see them in the future, I don't know if I will see them alive again, they don't know what will happen,” said Ms Mitigan.

Although safe in Limerick, she feels the terror that has struck at the heart of her family: “I cry every day, I ring them and ask them are they ok, all our thoughts are about Ukraine now.”

“Our fathers are told they must stay in the Ukraine, and our mothers have told us they will support (their) husbands. A lot of our friends with small kids are trying to find a safe place for their kids, they are leaving Ukraine because the kids don't need to see this or hear this, it’s very bad for their future and their development,” said Ms Mitigan.

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“A lot of our friends are still in Kyiv and said they will stay (and fight), and we don't know what to do.”

For now, Ukraine’s telecommunications infrastructure is intact and allows the couple to stay in touch with their loved ones there.

“My parents told me they are happy we are not there because our future isn’t safe (there). Of course they are afraid, because they don't know what the future will be.

“We have other relatives in Russia and they say they want to help us and save us. They propose we go to Russia because it is safe there, but (that’s) impossible.”

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