A TRAPPED family talked about their hellish life in a hidden corner of Ukraine pulled by Vladimir Putin.
They were among those who watched in awe as more than 10,000 Russian troops with tanks and artillery poured in Donetsk and Luhansk.
Yesterday, the family sent a text message out of the war zone to The Sun to tell of their horror, living without electricity or water and huddled in cellars.
Alexei, 38, said: ‘We thought we had found our dream home but now it’s a living nightmare – having to hide in a neighbor’s basement when we hear shelling. .
The family is left powerless after pro-Russian separatists running the Donetsk rebel region are suspected of destroying their own power stations in an operation known as false flags to incite war.
But they managed to send messages revealing their plight when Putin’s soldiers camped nearby yesterday.
We changed their names to hide their true identities after they warned their lives were in danger for not speaking up.
Mother and daughter Natalia, 36, and Alexei said they were stuck after they started building their dream home in 2011 – three years before Putin’s separatists took over.
The family last night found themselves surrounded by Russian troops on the left side of the 250-mile zone between opposing forces.
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They were shivering in the dark, windowless hallway of their home, cowering from the sound of shells. Store employee Natalia said: ‘We don’t have a basement so we have to sleep in the hallway, which has no windows at the back of the house.
“As the shelling raged, we ran to the basement of the neighbor’s house – although I had barely slept in days.
“We kept hearing loud bangs coming from our side and our biggest fear was that the Ukrainians would get answers.
“The kids have somehow learned to sleep through the noise – even though they wake up from time to time – but I stay awake because I fear them. It’s scary.
“During the day, they shoot less and farther and it sounds more like a machine gun. But at night it was very noisy – mainly because of us. I was constantly scared and scared that they would start shooting back.”
Describing daily life under Russia’s separatist regime, coal miner Alexei said: “Much of Donetsk now has no electricity or water. Our house has its own well but we need electricity to pump it out.
“I figured out how to connect the car battery to the pump so we have water sometimes and that’s how we’re going.
“But we went two days without power and could only keep in touch with the outside world by charging our phones in our cars.”
‘THIS IS A WEEKLY POINT’
Over the weekend, Ukrainian officials accused pro-Russian rebels of trying to cut off water supplies to 850,000 homes with a grenade attack on a pumping station.
The pseudo-flag attack took place in a neutral area where the infrastructure is said to be unaffected.
Separatist fighters have since been accused of attacking their territories while blaming Ukrainian forces. They are also said to have cannons located near the families’ homes.
Meanwhile, stage-managed protests of supporters waving Russian flags and setting off fireworks broke out in Donetsk as Putin’s troops swept in on Monday night.
But the Ukrainian family we discovered caught up in the unfolding tragedy is highly suspicious of the so-called peacekeeping force elected by the war-hungry Putin until yesterday.
Alexei, who does not support Russia or its pariah president, faces a dilemma after rebel leaders in Donetsk urged men of combat age to join the militia. their troops.
The family rejected an offer to evacuate to Russia’s Rostov region as fighting intensified.
Alexei said they liked to stay and brave the coming storm, declaring: “Why did we go there. There is nothing for us there and we are Ukrainians, not Russians.”
Natalia fears for the mental health of her two daughters, aged 13 and eight, as they become unsettlingly accustomed to life under fire.
Young people used to love pizza, burgers, Western TV and Disney movies, including their favorite movie, The Lion King. But now they spend tense hours in the dark to be comforted by their traumatized parents as war rages around them.
‘WE DON’T WANT A WAR’
Natalia told The Sun: “Everybody had a chance to evacuate but the men were not allowed to go and I was afraid that my husband would be taken into service.
“I don’t want him to go and he doesn’t want to go because we don’t want a war. This is not our war. We didn’t start it and we don’t want to participate in it.
“We want to live like normal people. We have done nothing to deserve to be used as a human shield.”
The pair hope the relative calm over the past two years means the threat of all-out war has lessened.
They saw uniformed troops on the street but were never sure if it was separatists or Russians.
Natalie said: “But I know that I fear it all. I am so afraid this will turn into a big fight.
“I have heard of the wounded and the dead but so far God has been merciful to us and we have not seen it with our own eyes. I can only pray that that day will never come.”
https://www.the-sun.com/news/4748053/ukraine-russia-putin-dream-home/ We thought we had our dream home in Ukraine… now we’re hiding in a cellar under the roar of Putin’s gun