The five-year-old Ukrainian learning to love Scotland

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The five-year-old Ukrainian learning to love Scotland

Five-year-old Oleksii, who now shares our Scottish house as part of the Homes for Ukraine scheme, refuses to speak Russian.

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His act of defiance began in Ukraine after he asked his mother: "Why do so many people speak Russian if the Russians came to kill us?"

Before he arrived in Scotland a few weeks ago, Oleksii lived on the edge of Kyiv near the road that leads to Bucha. This was near where the column of Russian tanks lined up for an assault on the Ukrainian capital earlier in the war.

His family could hear one explosion after the next and "saw the sky turn purple" so they fled to the west of the country in search of safety.

I first met his mum Nataliia over a video call. I had been in touch with a contact I had filmed with for a Panorama programme in Ukraine many years earlier to ask if I could help.

Her answer was Nataliia. On the video call, and with a family member translating, she seemed warm but pragmatic. I liked her. Soon after, we started the form-filling and the planning to bring her and Oleksii to Scotland.

When the Russian soldiers withdrew from Kyiv, Nataliia and Oleksii moved back but they were not sure how long the calm would last. Her husband knew he had to stay behind regardless.

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