Hundreds of brave Ukranians are crossing back into their beleaguered homeland to fight against the invading Russian army.
And although according to Polish authorities more than 40,000 have left the war ravaged nation since fighting erupted earlier this week, another 9,000 have crossed back over the border and hundreds of them are ready to fight against Russian troops.
At Medyka, a Polish frontier post 50 miles west of the Ukranian city of Lyiv, Mail Online met three men who had jetted back from across the world to take up arms.
Sergei Udod, 40, Mykola Lysko, 42, and Viktor Kondratiuk, 53, had all met on a flight from Paris to Warsaw before cadging a lift to Medyka where they were planning to head onto Kyiv and take on the Russians.
At Medyka, a Polish frontier post 50 miles west of the Ukranian city of Lyiv, Mail Online met three men who had jetted back from across the world to take up arms. Sergei Udod, 40, Mykola Lysko, 42, and Viktor Kondratiuk, 53, (pictured together) had all met on a flight from Paris to Warsaw before cadging a lift to Medyka where they were planning to head onto Kyiv and take on the Russians
Although according to Polish authorities more than 40,000 have left the war ravaged nation since fighting erupted earlier this week, another 9,000 have crossed back over the border and hundreds of them are ready to fight against Russian troops
Ukrainian soldiers are pictured forming up across a highway in Kyiv as they prepare to defend the city from Russian attackers, with gunfire and explosions heard in the centre of the capital on Friday
Sergei, a doctor who is based in Libya, said: ‘We have no option but to come back and fight. It’s our duty. Our country must be defended and we are all ready to do so.
‘The Russian aggression must be stopped. We are a proud nation and we are brave our army may be smaller than Putin’s but we will make sure he has a fight and we will give him a match he will not be expecting.
‘He will wish he had never crossed into Ukraine and he had stayed at home in Moscow. We will not give up without a fight and we are ready to die if we have to.’
Policeman Mykola, who was on holiday in Brazil, when Russia invaded earlier this week said: ‘I could have taken the easy way out and just stayed on the beach but I couldn’t do that when I knew my fellow countrymen are fighting and dying to save our country.
‘I have friends and relatives who have taken up arms and I have family back in Kyiv, as soon as I saw the situation I didn’t think twice and got a plane back from Brazil to Europe where I met these two guys in Paris and we flew to Warsaw.
‘It has been a long journey and who knows how it will end but I will have done my duty and defended my country.’
Truck driver Viktor, who flew in from Canada, said: ‘You have to stand up to aggression, that’s why I have come back. I fought before in 2014 and know I will fight again. My country needs me, our president needs us and the people must all stay together to fight Putin and his forces.’
Hundreds poured across into Poland in the freezing temperatures, eagerly grabbing cups of hot tea and coffee that had been offered to them by local charities and volunteers
Many had spent hours in long queues and gridlocked roads snaking back from the border towards Lyiv and onto Kviv more than eight hours away
Just before arriving in Medyka, President Zelensky, had posted a rousing speech on Facebook, dressed in military fatigues and with his advisers, he said stirringly: ‘We are all here. Our soldiers are here. The citizens are here and we are here. We defend our independence, our country. That’s how it’ll go.
‘Glory to our defenders, both male and female, glory to Ukraine.’
His advisers replied in unison: ‘Glory to our heroes.’
Another man, who declined to give his name, and who stopped as he crossed back into Ukraine from Poland, said: ‘I saw president Zelensky make his speech. He was there in Kyiv with his advisers and he spoke of our brave soldiers, men and women who are fighting against a madman.
‘I made sure my wife and children were safe here in Poland and now I’m going back to help in the fight. It’s the least I can do.’
As he spoke hundreds poured across into Poland in the freezing temperatures, eagerly grabbing cups of hot tea and coffee that had been offered to them by local charities and volunteers.
Many had spent hours in long queues and gridlocked roads snaking back from the border towards Lyiv and onto Kviv more than eight hours away.
Bottles of water were also handed out as well as fruit and chocolate bars, overwhelmingly apparent was the number of women and children that were making the crossing, with barely any men after President Zelensky imposed a martial law banning males ages 18-60 from leaving the country.
It said this was ‘in order to ensure the defence of the state, maintaining combat and mobilisation readiness of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and other military formations.’
Earlier President Zelensky had said: ‘We will give weapons to anyone who wants to defend the country. Be ready to support Ukraine in the squares of our cities.’
People fleeing Ukraine as Russian forces attack the capital are seen in Medyka
Views of border between Poland and Ukraine at Medyka as people flee Ukraine
Anastasia Podhovna and Daria Rikhiemmova with their cat Siri they rescued
Law student Daria Rlkhimova, 19, had left her boyfriend behind in Lviv to fight against the Russians and blinking back tears as she crossed the border at Medyka, she said: ‘People are scared, I’m scared but our country is strong, we will fight and we will resist.
‘I’ve left my boyfriend behind to fight, my mother lives in Poland and is here waiting for me. I don’t know when I will go back and see my boyfriend but we will speak every day. He is doing his duty for his country, like other brave Ukranian men and we are all proud of them.
‘It took me 24 hours to get across the border and while I was there the Ukranian authorities came to the border and said all men between 18 and 65 had to turn back and there were very emotional scenes.
‘Wives were crying saying they wanted to go with them but the men said no, they had to go into Poland and they would be reunited when it was all over. I saw some families even decide to go back because they didn’t want to be split up. It was heartbreaking.’
As she spoke her friend, Anastasia Pedhovna, 19, stood next to her sobbing, she clutched a suitcase and was carrying a basket with her pet cat Siri, Daria said: ‘I met this poor girl in the queue to cross the border. She’s from Kyiv and has been crying the whole day, she’s absolutely terrified and scared.
‘She was there when the explosions started and her family told her to leave and go to Poland, she doesn’t know anyone or have anywhere to go. All she has is a suitcase with some clothes and her cat, and that’s all thanks to Putin.’
Law student Daria Rlkhimova (right) comforts her friend Anastasia Podhovna after they crossed the border at Medyka