BOURNEMOUTH Symphony Orchestra’s chief conductor has spoken exclusively about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, urging the west to help the country in which he was born.

Ukrainian-born conductor Kirill Karabits who has been with the world-famous Poole-based orchestra for 14 years, condemned the invasion by Russia earlier this week.

He said: “I strongly condemn the Russian invasion. The politicians should sit down and start talking as soon as possible and stop the violence. When people are dying the most important and urgent thing to do is stop it.

Bournemouth Echo: Kirill KarabitsKirill Karabits

“Two days ago, I wouldn’t have mentioned that something like that would have happened. We are living in a very different world right now. I wouldn’t have thought an open invasion like that would become a reality.

“I am devastated and I feel pain for Ukraine and am very worried about the people.”

Born in Kyiv, Mr Karabits’ mother and sister still live in the capital and are currently having to hide.

“They are in shelter in the city centre. There is a danger of aviation strikes and missiles flying in the sky. I worry for them.

“It is a violent and aggressive move undertaken by the Russian authorities. Hopefully it can be stopped soon.”

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Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Thursday night 137 people had been killed after Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion of the former Soviet nation.

Mr Zelenskyy described them as “heroes” in a video address on Friday, confirming a further 316 people have been wounded.

Mr Karabits added: “I feel terribly sorry for the people who are dying in order to protect Ukraine. To my opinion the western countries should concentrate on finding the solution to stop the conflict and help Ukrainian people more than anything else at this moment.

“We know that Europe and Britain were very helpful recently in providing the military help and introducing the sanctions all of which didn’t prevent Russia from the invasion, so peaceful diplomatic negotiations need to be held, now it is the moment of truth.

“The whole world should be on Ukraine’s side at the moment in order to force the peaceful solution, resolve the conflict and stop the violence.”