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‘This is hell’: British volunteer describes danger of carrying out evacuations in Ukraine

British man who was carrying out evacuations in Ukraine claimed that his 4×4 vehicle had been hit by a Russian tank round. He is now being written off.

Chris Parry, a Cheltenham-based running coach, originally flew to Poland in order to join the Ukrainian military. He crossed the Ukrainian border on March 5.

In the early days, he was working on a supply run from Kharkiv. Mr Parry said back in November to Sky News that he had begun work on evacuating people out of Severodonetsk before it fell in June.

According to the latest update from Ukraine Mr Parry stated that the 4×4 vehicle that he bought to reach remote areas and evacuate more people was damaged by a Russian tank.


Parry worked in Bakhmut, Eastern Ukraine, 400m from the Russian front. He said that he was capable of evacuating around 30 people within three week of getting the vehicle. This was after he raised funds via JustGiving.

After trying to rescue a couple in their 80s who took refuge in the basement of a house, Mr Parry said that the Donetsk area was “very dangerous”.

“As I was running, I saw a civilian lying on the street who had just been executed.” He said that it was a sign of the dangers of the location.

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“I stood there in the square, completely exposed to everything, screaming out ‘evacuation! evacuation’.

“The lady came up to me and began walking towards me. They had an elderly couple. She was around 60 years old and her daughter was 40.

“These two elderly men were in the corner of my room, scared and lost. They were afraid I would abandon them, so I spent 10-15 minutes explaining to them that I was taking them to Slavyansk.

Image: Bakhmut In Ukraine Pic: Chris Parry

“This isn’t war, it is hell”

After driving the two people to safety, Mr Parry continued to say that he had taken two boys, their parents and two men to his house.

He was driving with six passengers in his car and a lot of luggage when he got a call from the command to help a woman 40m further east.

“I visited a military commando unit and talked to soldiers who said Bakhmut was the worst place they’ve ever been. They said that this wasn’t war; it was hell. It is called the grey zone because there is no control and you can just run into a Russian at any time.

“Missiles were landing onto the building next to it, the roof was shaking. I asked soldiers how possible it was to reach the next evacuation site. They said it was 50/50.

They kept saying, “You’re crazy, you are crazy” and gave me an emblem from World War II that they removed from a Russian they had killed. It was a Nazi swastika dating back to 1939.

In an effort to avoid being targeted by Russian weapons, Parry left the military command center and drove down exposed roads through fallen tower blocks.

“This huge bang occurred”

Mr Parry said, “I was driving through trees, debris, and anything else that was in front of my car.” “As soon I pulled back onto my road, this huge bang occurred about two metres from my front right wheel. Everything became foggy for a second.

The huge bang was like a tank landing on my front left tire and then it just exploding. I didn’t think I’d stop to check it so I carried on.

The western side of town is safer than the east. It’s also split in half by the Bakhmutovka River. Mr Parry attempted to change the tire himself but was unsuccessful.

He was forced to flee to safety by four Ukrainian soldiers, who helped him to repair his car after the sun had set at 3.30pm.

After changing his tyre in darkness, Mr Parry tried to cross the river but, due to the combination icy conditions with the darkness, he ended-up bursting his right front tire.

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The next morning, he spent the night in trenches along the west side of town in -2C temperatures and attempted to get his car free once again, but to no avail.

“The problem was that I was driving on a flat tire, and was moving very slowly. I was suddenly able to go from one concrete slab to the next adjacent one. The flowing water beneath it had corroded and I became stuck.

“I’m willing to travel places that a lot people don’t”

When asked what he would do if he didn’t have access, Parry replied that he has a Mercedes Sprinter van which can go to most places but not the most dangerous.

“I believe people who try to flee now are being killed or forced to become Russians for the rest their lives.

“That’s why I was willing and able to take the risk, because I know these people will be executed on the streets or sent off. Yes, I will continue working in safer areas. I’m here to help the most vulnerable.

“I’m willing to travel to places where a lot of people won’t go.

“I calculated that the vehicle cost PS7,000 and that I had to evacuate 30 people, so it comes out to around PS500 per person. Although it is true that you cannot put a price on your life, some of these people would be 100% dead.

To help the most vulnerable through JustGiving, Mr Parry continues to raise PS17.500. You can access it through his Instagram account @Christoburg.


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