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Melbourne mum and son, 8, stranded in Ukraine: 'Extremely anxious'

An "extremely anxious" Melbourne mum says she and her son are stranded in Ukraine after the eight-year-old caught Covid-19.

Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler travelled to Europe to see her family after years of being separated by border closures and was due to return home on February 9.

However, her plans were thrown into disarray when her son tested positive to the virus on February 6.

As fears of a Russian invasion continue to rise, the mum said so do does her anxiety.

"My son is a bit anxious and myself, I'm very anxious to be here in Ukraine at the moment," she told Nine's Today show on Wednesday.

Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler, who is now stranded in Ukraine, holds a sign reading 'say no to Putin'.
Nataliya Poshyvaylo-Towler travelled to Europe to see her family in Ukraine after years of being separated by border closures. Source: Facebook

Ms Poshyvaylo-Towler said she has been in contact with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Australian embassy in Ukraine.

She said authorities told her her son will need to return a negative Covid test before they can return home.

"I still can't get out so my anxiety is rising every minute. I have to follow the rules," she said.

The pair, who are in isolation in the city of Poltava, are hoping to board a flight on Sunday and return to Melbourne, where Ms Poshyvaylo-Towler’s husband and daughter are waiting.

The mum said Australian authorities have urged her to drive to western Ukraine, but it is "not possible at the moment".

She is now researching bomb shelters in her area.

"Just like 30 minutes ago I was looking at the map and location of six bomb shelters around my home place and he is asking questions about it," she told Today, saying she’s "stuck between a rock and a hard place".

Ms Poshyvaylo-Towler's son standing with her dad in the snow.
Ms Poshyvaylo-Towler said authorities say her son will need to return a negative Covid test before they can return home. Source: The Today Show

Ukraine's defence ministry hacked

Russia claimed to have drawn down some of its troops on Tuesday, following days of US and British warnings that Moscow might invade its neighbour at any time.

It was not clear how many units were being withdrawn, and by what distance, after a build-up of an estimated 130,000 Russian troops to the north, east and south of Ukraine.

"We've always said the troops will return to their bases after the exercises are over. This is the case this time as well," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

However, US President Joe Biden says the reports have not been verified.

"To the citizens of Russia: you are not our enemy, and I don't believe you want a bloody, destructive war against Ukraine," Biden said in nationally televised remarks from the White House on Tuesday.

Ukraine says its defence ministry and two banks have been hacked, appearing to blame Russia.

"It is not ruled out that the aggressor used tactics of little dirty tricks because its aggressive plans are not working out on a large scale," the Ukrainian Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security said.

Privatbank users had problems with payments and a banking app, it said. One European diplomat said the hacking was concerning because a full military attack on Ukraine would likely be preceded by a cyberattack.

with Reuters

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