Ukrainian refugee in Plymouth says 'red line has been crossed' after children's hospital is bombed

A Ukrainian man living in Plymouth has spoken of his anger over the bombing of a children's hospital by Russian military, saying Vladimir Putin has 'crossed a red line'.

Maksym Litvinov was forced to flee his hometown of Kharkiv after his home and business premises were destroyed by Russian artillery, having already sent his family out of Ukraine, and he now works as a bus driver in Plymouth.

Mr Litvinov spends his spare time collecting and organising aid packages which are taken back to Ukraine in convoy with fellow philanthropist Andreas Evangelou.

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The pair returned from their latest trip the 10th mission from Plymouth less than two weeks ago, where they delivered tonnes of aid including a 4x4 vehicle and a caravan which were taken on to frontline forces.

But he was moved to anger by the bombing of Okhmatdyt children's hospital, Ukraine's largest medical facility for children, which was caring for 670 patients at the time.

Open heart surgery was interrupted by the bombing, and children receiving care for cancer have had to be moved out after the attack on the 10-storey building.

Mr Litvinov said he received a message from friends in Lviv telling him there had been 'a tragedy' before news of the attack hit international news bulletins, and said 'three or four' missiles were launched at the hospital in what he said was clearly a deliberate act.

"I am a very peaceful man, but yesterday I was very angry about that," he told The Herald.

"It's not honest or fair to do that. It's ok if they have bombed my house or my friend's house. Half of Ukraine they have bombed, and that's ok, but a children's hospital not a military hospital.

"It is the worst thing they could do. There is a red line and Putin has gone across this. I have been asking if this is enough evidence for the world government to act. In Ukraine it's not war, it's genocide."

Mr Litvinov said his own brother has received care from the hospital when they were children, as it is was the biggest and best-equipped facility for paediatric care.

He said: "My brother maybe 30 or 35 years ago when he was ill, he was taken there by my father as there is most modern equipment and the best doctors there.

"It is the only one of its kind in Ukraine and is a very big one, and they did children's heart transplants. They had doctors from Israel and the United States who came to gain experience from there. This is the main hospital working with children's cancers."

He added: "Before we have this news [on Monday], my friend who is in Lviv, Vascha, he sent me a message saying 'We have had a tragedy now, in Kyiv, and we are right now collecting stuff from storage and going straight to Kyiv'.

"It's maybe a five or six-hour drive, and I asked him what had happened, but didn't get a reply.

"But in 20 or 30 minutes I was reading the news and I spoke to my friends in Kyiv and they said there had been three or four bombs and people who are living in high apartments were watching fire in the middle of the city centre."