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‘I know the risks’

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By Amy Duffy
Annan and Eskdale
‘I know the risks’

AS THE war rages on in Ukraine, one Annan man is preparing to head over there next week to fight against the Russians.

Stefan Danczak will fly to Poland where he will be transported to the Ukrainian border, which he will then have to pass on foot.

Mr Danczak’s father was Ukrainian and he grew up locally in a very traditional, patriotic household, always feeling that he was Ukrainian first and Scottish second.

He has cousins and many friends living in the conflict zones and admits that, while he is not quite fluent, he speaks enough of the language to get by.

Mr Danczak yesterday said: “It would be foolish to say I’m not scared – of course I am.

“There’s the risk of serious injury, and obviously the ultimate sacrifice of dying.

“But I’m going into it with my eyes wide open, I know the risks but I feel like I’m able to go and fight so I will.”

He is being advised by an association nicknamed ‘the international legion’, set up by Ukraine to support volunteers from other countries who want to join the battle against the Russian invasion.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged foreign nationals to ‘join the defence of security in Europe’ as Russia intensifies its attacks on several major cities.

There are three levels of combatants, with Mr Danczak, 53, expecting to join category three. This means that he will receive as much training as possible before being sent into active battle, a good thing considering he has no military experience.

Mr Danczak said that he has heard of thousands of volunteers from all over the UK who are doing the same as him and going to help Ukraine fight Putin’s army, but that he hasn’t yet

heard of anyone else from Dumfries and Galloway planning to go over.

He said: “I’ve obviously been watching the news and I saw a six-year-old girl be resuscitated.

“I just couldn’t watch that and not do anything, it’s horrific.

“I’m at an age where I can fight so I have to go over and do something, this shouldn’t even be allowed to happen.”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has reported 1335 civilian casualties so far, including 474 people killed. Among the dead are 27 children.

However, it also cautioned that the actual figures are likely to be much higher.

Asked about Scots fighting abroad, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I would not encourage people with no military experience or training to go to Ukraine, however much I might understand the motivations that they have, because I am not sure that would be the best way to help Ukraine at this particular moment.”

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