A woman who lives in Kyiv has said her family and friends back in Russia are being ‘deceived’ by the Kremlin propaganda machine.
Natalie, who was visiting her partner in Edinburgh when the invasion began last Thursday, said her loved ones believe that Russia is freeing Ukraine.
The 53-year-old Russian, who has lived in Ukraine’s capital for more than 20 years, told STV News: “They said, ‘just after a few days you will be free’. From what we will be free I don’t know.”
Natalie tried to explain to her family and friends that she was watching news reports from Scotland and not Ukraine, but anything anti-Russian is deemed to be a lie.
She said ‘they don’t have a choice’ following ‘years and years’ of propaganda under Vladimir Putin’s regime.
Natalie added: “They just stay on one side because they watch the disinformation [that’s shown to them].”
The mum-of-two said they cannot accept the truth, possibly because it’s “easier to accept the lie”.
Natalie, whose visitor visa expires next month, has been unable to return to Kyiv and is unsure whether she’ll have a home to go back to as she lives near the TV tower that was struck by a Russian missile.
She described the bombing scenes as something out of a “horror film” and has been messaging her friends and neighbours to make sure they’re still alive.
Natalie said: “I cannot sleep at all.
“It’s very difficult and very dangerous for everybody. This situation is so terrible because we can’t do anything.”
Natalie, whose daughters are living safe elsewhere, has been praying for the Russian soldiers to retreat.
She said: “I am not a citizen of the country, but my heart is [a Ukranian] heart.”