Ukraine war: Father's tribute to family killed by Russia

‘Forgive me, I didn’t cover you’: Devastated father pays tribute to mother, son, 18, and daughter, 9, all killed by Russian forces during ‘ceasefire’ as they tried to flee besieged town

  • Tatiana Perebyynis was killed alongside her two children Alise and Nikita during shelling in Irpin 
  • Russian shelling rained down on the fleeing family despite promise of ‘ceasefire’ in killing that shocked world  
  • Serhiy Perebyynis has paid tribute to wife and children, saying on Facebook: ‘Forgive me, I didn’t cover you’ 
  • Ukraine said civilian death toll in Mariupol alone has exceeded 1,200 as maternity hospital was pounded 
  • Putin is resorting to increasingly brutal and indiscriminate tactics as his Ukraine war drags on 

A devastated father has paid tribute to his family who were brutally killed by Russian shelling during a ‘ceasefire’ as they tried to flee their besieged town in Ukraine. 

Serhiy Perebyynis shared images of high-ranking accountant Tatiana Perebyynis and their two children Alise and Nikita on Facebook, and wrote: ‘Forgive me, I didn’t cover you’. He also shared a photo of the family’s two dogs – one of which was killed in the attack.

Mrs Perebyynis was killed alongside her daughter, 9, and son, 18, after Russian artillery rained down on the trio alongside as they desperately fled the besieged town of Irpin on March 6.

The photographs of the young family lifelessly sprawled out across the roadside, with their two terriers whimpering nearby, sent shockwaves across the world as it became clear that Putin’s ‘humanitarian corridors’ were simply a mirage.

After fleeing from separatist forces in Donetsk, the family moved to the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital four years ago, where they planned to renovate their ‘forever home’ and watch their children grow into young adults.

Writing on Facebook, Mr Perebyynis said: ‘He took them all. Tanya couldn’t make it. I must see you one last time. Forgive me, I didn’t cover you.’

Mrs Perebyynis’ friend Irina Nedava has also paid tribute to the family, posting on social media: ‘Our friend… her children – Nikita and Alise, the godfather and the godparents of my Polinochka were covered with mortar fire, leaving Irpen on the humanitarian corridor… Tanya did not dare to leave her home for so long, because her parents are sick: dad is a cardiologist and mum is in a wheelchair with Alzheimer’s disease.

‘Tanya was their last hope and support! What will happen to them?’.

She added: ‘I can’t convey my emotions, my hands are shaking from anger and dripping tears at the same time! We will never forget anything! In loving memory of our loved ones!’.

Heartbreaking footage, taken on Sunday in Irpin, located on the outskirts of the besieged capital city Kyiv, confirmed that Russian forces attacked heavily populated civilian areas where men, women and children tried fleeing the country as Putin continued denying bombing Ukrainian cities.

Tatiana Perebyynis was killed alongside her daughter and son after Russian artillery rained down on the trio alongside as they desperately fled the besieged town of Irpin, Ukraine, on March 6 

Alise (left) and son Nikita (right) were killed during the shelling during a supposed ‘ceasefire’ to allow civilians to escape

Serhiy Perebyynis shared images of his family on Facebook, writing: ‘Forgive me, I didn’t cover you’

Ukrainian servicemen try to help people who have been wounded in Irpin – as an increasingly delusional Putin is insisting that Russia is not bombing Ukrainian cities, despite mounting fears that 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after a cluster bomb attack on the city of Chernihiv killed 49 earlier this week. A mother and two children were killed and the father was wounded by a mortar shell as hundreds of civilians sought safety

The photographs of the young family lifelessly sprawled out across the roadside, with their two terriers whimpering nearby, sent shockwaves across the world as it became clear that Vladimir Putin’s ‘humanitarian corridors’ were simply a mirage

A factory and a store are burning after been bombarded in Irpin, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6, 2022

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One image depicted Mrs Perebyynis and her two children lying dead on the pavement after they were killed in Irpin.

A little over a fortnight ago, she was drinking wine and chatting with colleagues late into the evening during a three-day work trip to Georgia. She laughed as members of the young start-up shared their ambitious and far-reaching plans for the future.

‘You could always come to her with the most stupid questions about taxes, international payments, or anything else,’ one colleague said.

‘She always patiently answered, laying all the options out on the table.’

But Mrs Perebyynis would never get to realise her own dreams. Living in fear of Russian invaders, she, Alise and Nikita hadn’t been able to flee earlier because they were taking care of her sick mother.

They had joined a male family friend and were taken over a bridge before being told to cross an exposed street near Kyiv as part of a humanitarian evacuation route that promised them safe passage.

But the trio’s lives were ended when they came under fire from a barrage of Russian mortar shells.

Pictures taken at the scene showed blood-soaked sheets covering their bodies, with their last-remaining possessions sprawled out on the roadside beside them.

It comes as a Russian airstrike devastated a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol, amid growing warnings from the West that Moscow’s invasion is about to take a more brutal and indiscriminate turn.

Ukrainian officials said at least 17 people were wounded in the attack, while more than 1,200 civilians are thought to have been killed as the Kremlin ‘terrorises’ the captive population with increasingly brutal and indiscriminate attacks.

The ground shook more than a mile away when the Mariupol complex was hit by a series of blasts that blew out windows and ripped away much of the front of one building. Police and soldiers rushed to scene to evacuate victims, carrying out a heavily pregnant and bleeding woman on a stretcher.

Another woman wailed as she clutched her child. In the courtyard, mangled cars burned, and a blast crater extended at least two stories deep.

Volodymir Nikulin, a top regional police official, accused Putin’s regime of committing a ‘huge’ war crime ‘without any justification’. Joe Biden’s administration condemned Russia’s ‘barbaric’ attack on the hospital, while the UN and the World Health Organisation said no hospital ‘should ever, ever be a target’.

Ukraine’s hardened president Volodymyr Zelensky wrote on Twitter that there were ‘people, children under the wreckage’ and called the strike an ‘atrocity’. Video shared by the comic-turned-wartime leader showed cheerfully painted hallways strewn with twisted metal.

Britain’s prime minister Boris Johnson condemned Russia’s ‘depraved’ attack on the ‘vulnerable and defenceless’, adding that Putin will be held ‘to account for his terrible crimes’.

Authorities, meanwhile, announced new ceasefires Wednesday morning to allow thousands of civilians to escape bombarded towns around Kyiv as well as the cities of Mariupol, Enerhodar and Volnovakha in the south, Izyum in the east and Sumy in the northeast.

It was not immediately clear whether anyone was able to leave other cities, but people streamed out of Kyiv’s suburbs, many headed for the city center, as explosions were heard in the capital and air raid sirens sounded repeatedly. 

Ms Perebeynos would never get to realise her own dreams. Living in fear of Russian invaders, she, Alise and Nikita hadn’t been able to flee Irpin earlier because they were taking care of her sick mother 

Ukraine has rejected most Russian evacuation routes because they lead to Russian soil or that of its ally, Belarus, while routes that Ukraine has proposed have come under bombardment. The only successful evacuation to take place so far has been from Sumy to Poltava (in green)

This image taken from video provided by the Mariupol City Council shows the aftermath of Mariupol Hospital after an attack, in the besieged port city of Mariupol, March 9, 2022

From there, the evacuees planned to board trains bound for western Ukrainian regions not under attack.

Civilians leaving the Kyiv suburb of Irpin were forced to make their way across the slippery wooden planks of a makeshift bridge, because the Ukrainians blew up the concrete span leading to Kyiv days ago to slow the Russian advance.

With sporadic gunfire echoing behind them, firefighters dragged an elderly man to safety in a wheelbarrow, a child gripped the hand of a helping soldier, and a woman inched her way along, cradling a fluffy cat inside her winter coat. They trudged past a crashed van with the words ‘Our Ukraine’ written in the dust coating its windows.

‘We have a short window of time at the moment,’ said Yevhen Nyshchuk, a member of Ukraine’s territorial defense forces. ‘Even if there is a cease-fire right now, there is a high risk of shells falling at any moment.’

Previous attempts to establish safe evacuation corridors over the past few days largely failed because of what the Ukrainians said were Russian attacks. But Putin, in a telephone call with Germany’s chancellor, accused militant Ukrainian nationalists of hampering the evacuations.

In Mariupol, a strategic city of 430,000 people on the Sea of Azov, local authorities hurried to bury the dead from the past two weeks of fighting in a mass grave. Nationwide, thousands are thought to have been killed, both civilians and soldiers, since Putin’s forces invaded. 

A satellite image taken on Tuesday but released Wednesday shows the destroyed road bridge on the outskirts of Irpin, near the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, which refugees have been using to flee the besieged city

Residents cross the destroyed bridge as they flee from the frontline town of Irpin, Ukraine, March 9, 2022

Smoke rise after shelling in Mariupol, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Ukrainian soldiers and emergency employees work at the side of the damaged maternity hospital in Mariupol, March 9, 2022

Putin could use chemical or biological weapons after spreading ‘preposterous propaganda’ the US is building bio-weapons in Ukraine labs, White House warns

The White House is warning on Wednesday that Russia’s autocratic leader Vladimir Putin could use chemical or biological weapons in a massive escalation of his unprovoked and deadly attack on Ukraine.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki sharply criticized Moscow’s claim that the U.S. is building bioweapons labs in Ukraine as ‘preposterous propaganda.’ 

Earlier in the day she condemned Russia over its ‘barbaric’ bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. 

The senior Biden official pointed out Russia’s ‘track record’ of gaslighting with its accusations against the West and said the Kremlin’s reports were an ‘obvious ploy’ for Putin to continue his ‘premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified attack on Ukraine’ as Russia bombards Kyiv and other cities there for nearly two weeks.

‘This is preposterous. It’s the kind of disinformation operation we’ve seen repeatedly from the Russians over the years in Ukraine and in other countries, which have been debunked, and an example of the types of false pretexts we have been warning the Russians would invent,’ Psaki wrote on Twitter.

She denied that the U.S. government produces or owns any biological weapons, and said it is in full compliance with the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention.

The UN estimates more than 2million people have fled the country, the biggest exodus of refugees in Europe since the end of World War II.

The fighting knocked out power to the decommissioned Chernobyl nuclear plant, raising fears about the spent radioactive fuel that is stored at the site and must be kept cool. But the UN nuclear watchdog agency said it saw ‘no critical impact on safety’ from the loss of power.

The crisis is likely to get worse as Moscow’s forces step up their bombardment of cities in response to what appear to be stronger Ukrainian resistance and heavier Russian losses than anticipated.

Echoing remarks from the director of the CIA a day earlier, British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Russia’s assault will get ‘more brutal and more indiscriminate’ as Putin tries to regain momentum.

The UK’s Ministry of Defence said fighting continued northwest of Kyiv. The cities of Kharkiv, Chernihiv, Sumy and Mariupol were being heavily shelled and remained encircled by Russian forces.

Russian forces are placing military equipment on farms and amid residential buildings in the northern city of Chernihiv, Ukraine’s military said. In the south, Russians in civilian clothes are advancing on the city of Mykolaiv, a Black Sea shipbuilding centre of a half-million people, it said.

The Ukrainian military, meanwhile, is building up defences in cities in the north, south and east, and forces around Kyiv are ‘holding the line’ against the Russian offensive, authorities said.

On Wednesday, some of Ukraine’s volunteer fighters trained in a Kyiv park with rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

‘I have only one son,’ said Mykola Matulevskiy, a 64-year-old retired martial arts coach, who was with his son, Kostyantin. ‘Everything is my son.’

But now they will fight together: ‘It’s not possible to have it in another way because it’s our motherland. We must defend our motherland first of all.’

In Irpin, a town of 60,000, police officers and soldiers helped elderly residents from their homes. One man was hoisted out of a damaged structure on a makeshift stretcher, while another was pushed toward Kyiv in a shopping cart. Fleeing residents said they had been without power and water for the past four days.

Regional administration head Oleksiy Kuleba said the crisis for civilians is deepening in and around Kyiv, with the situation particularly dire in the suburbs.

‘Russia is artificially creating a humanitarian crisis in the Kyiv region, frustrating the evacuation of people and continuing shelling and bombing small communities,’ he said.

The situation is even worse in Mariupol, where efforts to evacuate residents and deliver badly needed food, water and medicine failed Tuesday because of what the Ukrainians said were continued Russian attacks.

The city took advantage of a lull in the shelling Wednesday to hurriedly bury 70 people. Some were soldiers, but most were civilians.

The work was conducted efficiently and without ceremony. No mourners were present, no families to say their goodbyes.

One woman stood at the gates of the cemetery to ask whether her mother was among those being buried. She was.

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