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A father whose son was killed in Ukraine has issued a stark warning to Russian soldiers as he pledges to return to fight in his place.
The man, whose name is unknown, spoke to VICE World News while at the Ukrainian-Polish border as he revealed his plans to return to his home country to take up the fight against the Russian invasion.
Having apparently fled to the border shortly after war began, the grieving man said that his 23-year-old son had been killed during fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-largest city.
"You see, I am overwhelmed with feelings,' the clearly-distraught father said, as a friend explained that he was trying to go back to Ukraine 'to take his son's place'.
"My son told me, 'Dad it's bad. It's very bad, but we are holding on. It's okay','' he said, before speaking directly to the camera to urge Russian soldiers not to come to Ukraine so as not to meet the same fate.
"Boys, don't come here. You will die," he warned. "You killed my son, I will kill your son, and this b****** won't stop, do you understand?
"Don't come here at all, okay?" he said as he struggled to hold back his emotions.
Kharkiv, where the man's son was killed, has been the scene of some of the most brutal fighting of the war, as Ukrainian forces fight to hold back Russian forces attempting to encircle and lay siege to the city amid a brutal bombardment that has seen dozens of civilians killed.
The man's heartbreaking story is one mirrored by thousands of Ukrainian families, many of whom have been forced to leave their sons, husbands and brothers behind after 18-60 years old men were banned from leaving the country under martial law.
However, he is not the only Ukrainian to volunteer to stay behind and fight, with tens of thousands of volunteers having taken up arms to defend their country, to the point were some say they've had to bribe officials in order to be allowed to join up to already 'full' regiments.
"This is not some bravada," one man who stayed told VICE. "The city is open to leave by car or train, and whoever wanted to [has] left already. So we are fighting till the end and we’re going to win this. Volunteers without guns will have pitchforks, kitchen knives and molotovs."
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