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‘I feel helpless...I should be there with my family’: Local Ukrainians react to Russian invasion

A Chesterfield man from Ukraine reacts to the ongoing tensions between Russia and his homeland.
A Chesterfield man from Ukraine reacts to the ongoing tensions between Russia and his homeland.(NBC12)
Published: Feb. 24, 2022 at 6:52 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 24, 2022 at 7:44 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The Russian invasion into Ukraine has left Ukrainians in the Richmond area extremely concerned as they watch from nearly 5,000 miles away.

Some of them check in with family members every 15 minutes to ensure they’re OK, even as they try to continue living here.

According to the Global Education Office at Virginia Commonwealth University, six students on campus are from Ukraine. With everything going on, the university is trying to give as much support as possible.

“We’ve been in touch with students from the region and have connected them with resources,” said Dr. Jill Blondin, the Executive Director at the Global Education Office.

However, beyond just the students, that support extends to some of its faculty from Ukraine, like Alex Misiats.

“I didn’t sleep at all,” Misiats said.

The VCU math professor spent the entire night and day trying to find a way out for his mother and grandmother, who live in Central Ukraine, about four hours from Kyiv.

“I feel helpless,” Misiats said. “Despite, I feel safe here, but I think I should be there with my family at this moment.”

It’s a feeling for many Ukrainians right now as they wait by the phone for updates from loved ones.

“Every 15 minutes we call home, friends, children,” said Igor Kedrovskyi of Ukraine.

Kedrovskyi talked with many friends throughout the day on Thursday, getting the latest updates on the ground. His wife’s family is also trying to find a safe passage from where they live.

“They tried to escape from the city to the village area,” Kedrovskyi said. “They came back because all the roads were full of crowded people.”

As Russian troops moved across Ukraine, the U.S. and European Union issued sanctions against Russia.

However, Misiats and Kedrovskyi do not believe they will do anything, and other measures need to be taken to stop Vladimir Putin.

“Without the U.S. Military invasion, this is impossible,” Misiats said.

“I still believe in negotiations,” Kedrovskyi said.

While it is uncertain what could come next, there are groups ready to help these men, women and students in any way possible.

“I think that the support is key and being very mindful of what students are going through as we navigate this all together,” Blondin said.

Meanwhile, Misiats said those looking to support Ukrainians during this time could contribute to the Come Back Alive Foundation, a non-profit based in Kyiv. According to a Facebook post, it raised 20.5 million hryvnias ($673,000) in one day to support the Ukrainian army.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

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