Desperate Ukrainians fleeing the war were so crushed on the Polish border that several people fainted and a woman is believed to have died, a Briton said.
Jeremy Myers was caught falling in love with his Ukrainian girlfriend as people lined up for 25 hours, with temperatures dropping to minus four degrees at night to escape bombs in the war-torn country.
Jeremy, a 44-year-old Mancunian, described the “smear” as “beyond danger” and said one man had died in a pandemonium.
“It was an absolute commotion,” said Jeremy, a business consultant, speaking safely from Poland.
“There was a very small organization, and the closer you got to the front, the more people pushed and pushed.
Mancunian Jeremy Myers had fallen in love on the Polish border with his Ukrainian girlfriend as people lined up for 25 hours to escape bombs in a war-torn country.
Jeremy flew to Ukraine to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend of two years, Maria Romanenko (both pictured), 29, a journalist and anti-Putin activist
“Everyone will have these big jumps so often and people will scream.
“She had very young children and she felt very dangerous. Terrifying.
“Battles broke out when people accused others of pushing or hurting them. There was blood on their faces. We saw several women fainted and carried over the crowd.
“And there was a strong rumor that someone had been crushed to death – Polish border guards confirmed that they had heard that it was true.
“It was very dangerous.” I have bruises from the whole push and I’m just happy that we finally managed to get to Poland.
Jeremy flew to Ukraine to spend Valentine’s Day with his girlfriend, of whom Maria Romanenko, 29, has been a journalist and anti-Putin activist for two years.
Her Kiev-based family was convinced that Putin would not invade and that it was safe for the couple to stay in the country.
But on Thursday morning, they woke up to the news that the invasion had begun.
The couple joined huge convoys at the small border checkpoint Shehini. Jeremy described the small crowds (pictured) at the border as “madness” and “dangerous”
Maria, a prominent critic of Putin, has reluctantly agreed to leave the country.
A few weeks ago, a photo of her wearing a bracelet that read “Damn, Putin” was circulated in Ukraine – and she could be charged with arrest if the Russian army reaches Kiev.
A friend agreed to take the couple to the border, where they joined huge convoys traveling from Kiev to the small border checkpoint Shehini.
Police returned cars ten miles from the border to ensure that men under the age of 60, called to defend the country, would not try to escape.
But when the police saw Jeremy’s passport, they waved at him and said, “After what the British did to help us, we will miss you.”
Jeremy said there was a festive atmosphere when they first reached the small village of Shehini. But that quickly dissipated as people realized how slow the queue was.
“There were probably about 2,000 people in line at first,” he said.
“These were mostly women and children with some older people. There were also several foreign students.
“After this initial queue, we headed for a rectangular space, which also had thousands of people, and then into a smaller cage, like a cage. At each stage, people became closer and closer.
– Nobody kept any order. There were only a few soldiers with weapons, and when someone approached them and asked if they could organize the people, they just looked really menacing.
“At times it was said that they had to build a separate queue – a corridor for women with small children – but this was ignored.
“People tried to help each other if they could, but they were all in the same miserable situation.
Jeremy said there was a “strong” rumor that a woman had died in the collision. Pictured: The pen, where the crushing was strongest
Maria (pictured), a well-known critic of Putin, reluctantly agreed to leave the country. A few weeks ago, a photo of her wearing a bracelet with the inscription “Damn, Putin” went viral in Ukraine
“The scariest part was when we approached the cabins – we had been standing for about 12 hours until then – because then we really felt like a dangerous lover.
“Only three people worked in the booths – they had to process people before they got to passport control – and it was extremely slow.
“There were no toilets and nowhere to get food or even water. There was not even a place to sit, so people had no choice but to stand for hours, even though they were exhausted.
After passing through the first queue, they faced a second one for passport control, which took another 12 hours.
After going through this, the Polish border was a completely different experience.
“He was fully served and we moved there quickly,” Jeremy said.
“After we finished, there were hundreds of volunteers who gave us food and drinks and even clothes.
“People were standing there with signs offering to take people wherever they wanted, for free.
“Some people drove us for two and a half hours to Krakow, where we have friends, and refused any payment.”
Jeremy plans to return home to the United Kingdom after Maria, a former student at the University of Leeds, received a visa that would allow her to join him.
“I feel physically and emotionally devastated,” Jeremy said. “But I’m glad I’m safe.”