A Canadian who was trapped in northern Ukraine while attempting to assist displaced citizens has managed to escape the area on foot as bombs rained down.
Lex Brukovskiy told The Canadian Press Friday he was stuck in the city of Chernihiv for five days before he was able to walk out on Tuesday, leaving his van behind as Russian shelling of roads and bridges continued.
He said in a series of texts that once outside the city in eastern Ukraine, he continued to walk, hitched a ride and then eventually rejoined his original convoy of relief vehicles and reached the western city of Lviv on Thursday.
Mr. Brukovskiy, a fisherman from Meteghan, N.S., who grew up in Ukraine, says the convoy of vans did rescue six displaced people, as several vehicles managed to get out of the city ahead of him.
“I don’t take any credit for helping those [six] people escape. Half of my team were able to escape two days before the rest of us did [in vehicles]. They were the ones who helped the refugees,” he said.
Brukovskiy said he was relieved to exit Chernihiv but added that he’s saddened that others were left behind as the terrifying explosions continued.
“I’m disappointed that we weren’t able to get more people out. They’re desperate. They’re still calling me asking when we’re coming back for them,” he said.
There are very high risks of injury in attempting to continue trips to the eastern cities, he said.
Mr. Brukovskiy said that on Thursday, he’d learned a convoy of volunteers was ambushed near Chernihiv, with several wounded and at least one person killed.
In his own journey out of the city, the fisherman said he didn’t encounter Russian soldiers, but he added, “We left under shelling. The shelling never stopped there.”
The lobster harvester raised money for humanitarian aid and left his fishing boat in Meteghan last month to travel to Ukraine – where most of his family still lives.
He said on Friday that he’s already back on the road, looking to pick up displaced people and bring them to safety. Mr. Brukovskiy said he departed Lviv in a new van on Thursday, but he says for security reasons he can’t disclose details of his current journey.
He’s also increasingly wary of setting firm times when he can next talk. “Last time I planned on coming back the next day, I ended up getting stuck for five days,” he said.