UVA students from Ukraine discuss Russian invasion

Published: Mar. 1, 2022 at 4:36 PM EST
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - International students from Ukraine at the University of Virginia are in Charlottesville studying while their friends and family back home are fighting to keep their freedom.

“We say that Putin did one good thing,” student Varvara Iseieva said. “He united all the Ukrainians.”

Varvara says her family is sheltering: “They are sleeping under the taps of the bathrooms and under the sink, in the corridor,” she said.

Andriy Shalkivkiy is living the same reality as Varvara: “Everyday I’m reminded how thankful I am to be here and to have my family still alive,” the student said.

Right now, their studies are taking a back seat to the stress the Russian invasion brings every day.

“It’s just been me glued to my phone, checking it until 5 a.m., until it was morning in Ukraine because those are usually the more quiet periods,” Andriy said.

“I don’t know about others, but I started to feel guilt that I’m not with my mom and I’m not under the bomb banks,” Iseieva said. “I’m safe but I really want to be with them right now.”

Owen McHugh is from Charlottesville, but spent time in Ukraine with the Peace Corps. He says his Ukrainian friends are camping out in metro stations to avoid the bombings.

“Kyiv is the capitol of freedom, for now, and Ukrainian nation is united now, altogether, as never before,” one of his Ukrainian friends said through voice memo text.

On UVA Grounds, Ukrainian students are drafting a letter to UVA President Jim Ryan, pushing for more support.

“Urging him to make a statement asking President Joe Biden to do the things he promised to be as supportive of the Ukrainian people as he can,” Andriy said. “This is a political war. This is not a war between Russians and Ukrainians, this is a way between people who are loyal to Putin and everyone else.”

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