Brit couple make surreal escape from Ukraine in random blokes Fiat Punto

A couple had just 10 minutes to decide whether to flee their apartment block in Kyiv or stay put as Russian forces edged closer.

James Gibson and his wife Anna Matiunina, who have been married for three years, decided to make the tough decision and take the lifeline of fleeing the Ukraine capital – by bundling into a car with man they barely knew.

Packing all of their lives into the back of a Fiat Punto, the terrified couple were joined by Anna's school friend, her husband, their 10-year-old daughter and their dog, Daily Record reports.

The journey, which should have just taken eight hours, was a whopping 24-hour ride due to gridlocked traffic and terrifying military checkpoints.

James, who grew up in Scotland and moved to Ukraine, spoke to Ayrshire Live: "In those 10 minutes where we had to decide on what we were doing; we focused on survival.

"It sounds cliche but it’s fight or flight. If we don’t go now what will happen? What if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time or what if troops surround the city?

“The guy that drove us 24 hours was called Bogdan which means roughly, ‘sent from God’.”

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After managing to escape the capital, the terrifying group spent a restless night in a stranger's house before they set off the Romanian border.

They were met with a six mile traffic queue as huge anxious crowds waited to be granted access out of the war-torn country.

Luckily, after over five hours waiting, 36-year-old James and Anna, made it across the border on Sunday night (February 27).

James said: “That border experience was something else. You see these things on the news but we’ve maybe become desensitised to it because it feels so far away.

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“To see that taking place in this day and age is remarkable. When we got there, there was a line of cars 10 kilometres long. We walked the 10km with a suitcase and when we got to the actual border there was a mass of people and we were there in excess of five hours.

“It was like a scene from War of the Worlds with some people not understanding orders from soldiers standing with machine guns.

“I thought, ‘are we going to have panic here? Will there be a rush or stampede?’. Thankfully it didn’t happen. It was surreal. It just wasn’t real to look at.”

The couple had purchased tickets to leave Kyiv via train a day later than they did, but thankfully making the plunge to leave early proved potentially life-saving – as the metro stopped running and bridges were blocked just a day later.

The couple are now planning to catch a plane to Birmingham later this week, and despite having to run from the Ukraine, they say they're going to return as soon as they can.

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