Ukrainian mum reveals her candid talks with Russian soldiers who occupied her home

Newshub can reveal 91 Ukrainians have arrived in New Zealand since a special family visa was introduced in February. 

But with violence continuing against civilians in Ukraine, Amnesty International wants the Government to increase our 1500 refugee quota and create a special allotment for Ukrainians. 

One Ukrainian mum-of-two spent three days with Russian troops occupying her home near war-torn Bucha and she wants her story shared with the world. 

Bombs dropping over the back fence is the new normal for Vera Goychuk, who filmed shots of neighbouring homes ablaze from bombings on her phone and shared them with Newshub.

What was once a peaceful suburban neighbourhood for Vera and her two children is now a war zone.  

"I have five killed, my neighbours," she told Newshub.

But Russia's invasion wasn't enough to scare Vera away. She bravely remained in Vorzel, a village about 1 kilometre from Bucha, where Russia's retreat has revealed a trail of death and destruction and prompted accusations of war crimes. 

"I stayed all the time of the war," Vera told Newshub. "I stayed in my house with me and my kids and my dogs and my cats."

She stayed even when Russians came in and occupied her own home.

Vera saw Russians approaching her village in early March. The troops spent three days occupying her neighbour's home before setting their sights on hers. 

Vera Goychuk.
Vera Goychuk. Photo credit: Supplied

There has been no electricity in the area since late February so Vera cooks food with a barbeque using wood. 

"They came into my house to cook. They ask, 'can we cook?' What should I say? No, get away? I said OK."

Vera let them into her home, fearing for her life. They'd been fed propaganda. 

"They start to check all the mobile phones because they think, we here, are all fascists," she told Newshub. "The soldiers, they think they are saving us."

Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his assault on Ukraine in February with the assertion that the nation needed to be "de-Nazified". He claimed its capital Kyiv was being run by "neo-Nazis". 

Vera spoke candidly with her Russian occupiers. 

Before and after: Vera Goychuk and her children.
Before and after: Vera Goychuk and her children. Photo credit: Supplied

"We were talking a lot... For me it was very interesting to see their vision," she told Newshub. 

"We were talking about the Second World War. We said probably our grandfathers could be friends and now we are enemies and our kids can maybe, somewhere someday, marry and not be enemies."

Vera said she has never considered leaving her home, but when asked if she fears for her children's safety, she replied: "Yes."

She had a simple message for Kiwis: appreciate freedom. 

"Enjoy every moment of your life. Try to enjoy it."

While some Ukrainians, like Vera, are choosing to stay in their homes - an estimated 11 million have fled. Many across the border to neighbouring countries - some, even further.

New Zealand has granted 446 Ukrainians special family visas and so far 91 have touched down on Kiwi soil. There are more than 220 visa applications still to be processed. The Government has also donated $6 million in humanitarian aid. 

Vera Goychuk and her children in Ukraine.
Vera Goychuk and her children in Ukraine. Photo credit: Supplied

"We acknowledge the contributions of the Government to date, but given the scale of the crisis, much more is needed," Amnesty International Campaigns Director Lisa Woods told Newshub.

"We joined a number of organisations last month making a number of calls on government including increasing humanitarian aid to $20 million and increasing the refugee quota for the next year to 4000 with a special allotment for people from Ukraine."

Nikolai Fomin was a tour guide near Bucha. He has lost his livelihood to the war.

"The number of deaths there is already over 400 and they're still going through debris and still finding new bodies, unfortunately," he told Newshub. "It's a genocide. It's a massacre. It's rivers of blood everywhere, done by Russians."

Nikolai Fomin.
Nikolai Fomin. Photo credit: Newshub

Nikolai now concentrates all his effort into organising aid. 

"They've still got no electricity there. They've still got no phone signal. They have no running water, no shops whatsoever. When we brought these goods to people they were so thankful."

He held back tears. 

"I don't feel good speaking about it."

Asked what New Zealand can do to help, Nikolai said: "You can donate because that's the best thing you guys can do."

He also wants us to spread the word. 

"If you just speak about it, if you let the world know, that's already something."

The more support we give, the more chance for them to rebuild their lives.