Ukrainian cat-influencer Stepan goes missing in the epicenter of the war. What happened to him

The world-famous Ukrainian cat Stepan, who became a successful Instagram-influencer in peacetime, remained silent since the 3rd of March. His fans began to worry because Stepan and his owner, Hanna, lived in Kharkiv, a city heavily shelled by Russian troops since the very beginning of their invasion of Ukraine. Fortunately, today they appeared online and told their story of escaping the war.

What happened

Stepan is 13 yo cat who became famous on TikTok and Instagram thanks to his bored face while partying. He has already gained more than a million followers on Instagram and advertised a luxury purse by Valentino. AIN.Capital previously published his full story from zero to hero.

Once Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, Stepan called for stopping Russian troops and support for Ukraine through his social media accounts.

“People, stop the war! The Russian army continues bombing the civilian population of Ukraine,” says the message on his Instagram.

But after that, on March 3, Stepan suddenly vanished. In fact, the cat and his owner lived in Kharkiv – this is one of the cities most affected by Russia’s aggression. Occupiers have almost leveled it to the ground with constant bombing and shelling. Kharkiv residents, who failed or denied to flee, had to live in a basement to stay alive. So did Stepan.

Fortunately, after almost two weeks of silence, the cat finally came back online. On March 16, he posted on Instagram, saying that he had to escape from Ukraine and is safe now. Stepan and his owner are now in France, waiting for the day they can come back home safely.

This is his story, told by Hanna, Stepan’s owner.

The full story of what happened in Kharkiv

“On February 24, early in the morning, we were sleeping at home. At 5 am, some explosion was heard, and I didn’t even understand what it was. After a while, after half an hour later, there were more explosions, the windows trembled. I jumped up and understood that something terrible was happening! The attack and shelling of Kharkiv (especially on the North Saltovka where we live). We realized that the war had come to our house, – says Hanna in Stepan’s Instagram-profile. 

On the first day of the war were the most severe destructions. Shells hit the neighboring houses every day; the houses burned before our eyes. By some miracle, our house remained safe exactly for a week. Our house was also damaged on the eighth day as a shell flew into the neighbors’ balcony. There was no fire. Thank God! In two or three dozen apartments, all the windows spilled out. Also, two shells fell in our yard in front of the house.

We spent two nights in the basement and without electricity for a week. We had to go to the nearby basement to charge the phone. Then we managed to leave the city. Kharkiv volunteers helped by taking us to the railway station. We got on the train Kharkiv – Lviv (in 20 hours, we got to Lviv). Then we followed to the border with Poland. At the border, we stood in a line in a pedestrian crossing. There were a lot of people (4-5 thousand). After 9 hours, we crossed the border.

When we reached Poland, we were offered help from the World Influencers and Bloggers Association from Monaco. They helped us get to France to wait for the very day when we could return home. We’re all right now. We worry very much about our relatives in Ukraine and will do the very best we can to help our country”.

Hanna also showed in Stories what Russian invaders did to her and Stepan’s hometown. A once beautiful city is now in ruins.

What is going on and how can I help

Since the war started on February 24, Russian troops have already destroyed almost 400 civilian objects all over Ukraine – schools, houses, and even the maternity hospital full of pregnant women, newborns, and moms.

More than 100 Ukrainian children died, the number of killed adults hits thousands. More than two million people were forced to leave their homes and flee abroad – they became refugees because they were not safe in their homes.

Ukrainian defenders fight bravely on the ground and restrain the offensive of the Russian troops. But Russians continue to shell peaceful people of Ukraine from the sky and the sea, where they have a huge advantage.

You can support the Ukrainian army and civilians financially. You can also force your governments to close the Ukrainian sky to save innocent lives. Stand with Ukraine, stop the war.