'I don't know when my Ukrainian dad will see my Russian mum'

[Press center4] time:2023-05-30 19:41:09 source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center9 click:93order

"I'll never forget that feeling when I woke up at 4am - I had a text from my dad saying the airports had closed because Russia had invaded."

On 24 February 2022, Tanya Mills was due to fly to Kyiv to buy a wedding dress and see her dad, who's Ukrainian.

The war in Ukraine means she hasn't seen him for more than a year and also struggles to see her mum, who's Russian.

"Everything has changed, every day I truly have anxiety," Tanya, 24, tells Newsbeat.

"Every day I expect to see a message from someone saying the worst has happened.

"You sort of get used to it, not because you don't care about it anymore but because your brain just adjusts. But I will never accept it."

Tanya grew up in Moscow but has lived in London since 2020 when she moved to do a Masters and decided to make the UK home.

Her mum hasn't been able to leave Russia because of visa issues and hasn't seen Tanya's dad since before the war started.

Tanya says she's tried to carry on with normal and went ahead with her wedding last summer.

"That was super emotional without my parents there, my father-in-law walked me down the aisle," she says.

"My mum was on FaceTime watching the whole ceremony and after we sent footage to my dad.

"He watched it by himself, and that was really hard for all of us."

Tanya tries to contact her parents regularly but says it's hard to keep in touch with both of them.

"For my dad there are regular electricity cuts and power shortages and in Russia [it's] because of my mum's safety," she says.

"Dad will text when there's been enough power to say if I'm free to give him a call. We speak for about a minute.

"And with my mum it has to be pretty generic. You have to be really careful what you're saying a phone, you have to be really careful in your political views."

Tanya doesn't know when she'll next see her dad and last saw her mum in Moscow in September.

"It sort of seemed like nothing had really changed there," she says.

"People go to restaurants, people go to parties, people are just keeping on with their lives."

In spite of her Russian passport, Tanya says she can't describe herself as either Russian or Ukrainian.

"I think by nationality and because of my passport I am still Russian but I never truly associated myself as a Russian.

"I think half and half, and that's the best way to describe myself."

And she says she isn't sure if she will go back to Russia again.

"Growing up in Moscow was fun, but unfortunately I will probably never visit Russia and feel emotionally attached to it anymore," she says.

"I would love to cut ties as much as possible.

"It's frustrating because my passport is useless and I want people to know that not all Russians who have one deserve to be punished or sanctioned."

Tanya says the war means she's scaled back her social media activity too.

"I used to be pretty open but had a couple of threats from people I knew, and who I considered my friends," she says.

"I never thought that they would have such an opposite opinion to mine."

So, what keeps Tanya going when she isn't sure when she will see her parents again?

"My job which I really enjoy, my husband, who supports me daily and his wonderful family have become my family," she says.

"But mostly the fact I know that my parents rely on my emotional support badly.

"They both became isolated in a matter of hours and don't know when they'll see each other again."

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(editor-in-charge:Press center6)

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