A Briton living in Kyiv claimed locals were more interested in the country’s Eurovision hopes than the threat of a Russian invasion.
Daniel Williams, 45, from the Isle of Wight and now living in Kyiv as a business investor, said it would take Russian ‘hardware’ crossing the Ukrainian border for most people to leave their homes .
“People here are more interested in why their Eurovision winner might not be allowed to compete in May and people are more excited about Champions League football than Russian invasions,” said Mr Williams at the PA News Agency.
Alina Pash won the country’s Eurovision selection, but the 28-year-old singer is currently under investigation over a visit she made to Russian-occupied Crimea in 2015.
Ukrainian national television channel UA:PBC has suspended the signing of the agreement allowing it to be the country’s representative, according to the BBC.
Mr Williams added that his car was packed with a view to leaving Ukraine, but “we are not quite ready to abandon our friends, families and businesses just yet”.
British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace warned on Wednesday that Russia had “a very large force…which would overwhelm Ukraine if deployed” and reiterated Foreign Office advice, saying that British nationals should “seek to leave or avoid traveling to Ukraine”.
Mr Williams said he did not know of any British nationals who had chosen to leave the country.
“I think most people say it will take news of Russian material crossing a border at this point to move them,” he said.
“I know 300-350 locals and probably 40-50 expats and not a single one has left.”
Describing the atmosphere in Kyiv, he said: “We’re at record Covid numbers, so it’s a little quieter than normal, but that’s almost certainly because half the city is working from home in this moment.”
Stuart McKenzie, who also lives in Kyiv, told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday that Ukrainians were “not naive about the seriousness of the situation”.
Mr McKenzie added: ‘If we panicked every time something like this happened it would ruin the economy even more and that’s exactly what (Russian President Vladimir) Putin wants.’
Mr Wallace, who is in Brussels for talks with other NATO defense ministers, said there needed to be a “clear de-escalation” in the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border.
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed troops were returning to base after the end of military exercises, but Mr Wallace said he had seen no “evidence of withdrawal”.
He told Sky News: “I think what we haven’t seen is evidence of withdrawal which has been claimed by the Kremlin, in fact we’ve seen a continued build up of things like field hospitals and strategic weapons systems.”