Hearing of the Ukrainian-Russian community of LI | Herald Community Newspapers

Masha has lived in the United States for almost 30 years. However, her 75-year-old mother, sister and niece still live in a small Russian village, and she worries about the impact of Vladimir Putin’s crackdown on protests and social media — particularly since his invasion of Ukraine began last month will you.

“I can Skype with my mother now,” said Masha, who used a common Russian name instead of her real name for fear of reprisals against her family abroad. “Who knows what will happen tomorrow? You never know. That’s why when I talk to my mom, we talk about puppies and kittens and not the situation at all. Because if anything happens to her, I will never forgive myself.”

Masha’s friend on Long Island, Ania Kulchytska, is also concerned because her grandmother still lives in the medium-sized town near Ukraine’s border with Romania where Kulchytska grew up. Just a few weeks ago, she told a reporter how proud she was of the bravery the Ukrainians showed against the Russian invaders. But now, a month later, Kulchystka faces a grim reality.

“I worry if my family will wake up alive tomorrow,” said Kulchytska, a Bellmore real estate agent who grew up in the then newly independent Ukraine.

“My grandmother will be 80 years old. She can’t walk. We’re trying to come up with a plan to get them out of Ukraine. The lines at the border are just terribly huge. You have to wait for days to cross the border.”

Kulchytska also has relatives in the heavily bombed city of Mariupol.

“We were able to contact them about a week ago.” She said. “But there’s no connection to them anymore, so we don’t even know what happened to them.”

Father Vasyl Hrynkiv’s family lives in a small mountain village in western Ukraine. Of his 14 cousins, several are men fighting at the front lines many miles to the east. His mother, sister and other female relatives help pack food for the soldiers.

The mountain villages were not bombed by Putin because the pastor of the Ukrainian Catholic Church St. Vladimir said: “For one bomb he wants to kill a lot of people”, so cities were targeted.

One exception, however, is a village not far from Hrynkiv, where there is a monument to Stepan Bandera, an important figure in Ukraine’s struggle for independence during and after World War II. According to local reports, the Russians aimed a bomb at Bandera’s monument, but it did not explode. Hrynkiv called it a miracle.

“When the Ukrainian military staff came to disable the bomb,” Hrynkiv said, “they said that if the bomb could explode, the whole village would be washed off the ground and half of my village would be destroyed.”

The Effects of War on Citizenship

Masha feels pain, horror and betrayal that Putin would actually attack another country, but especially one with other Slavs. “He forgot that Ukrainians are like Russians. We are Slavic people. We will fight to the last drop of blood.”

At the same time, “I feel with normal people, I really feel sorry for them. For example my mother. She doesn’t make much money. She will be 75. She is still working and just because her pension is so low, she has to keep working. Before the war I can help, I will send her money. I can not do this anymore. So if my family is going to starve, there is nothing I can do about it.”

For Kulchytska, the war is getting too close to her native town. The Ukrainian government has developed an app that alerts citizens when air raid raid sirens sound.

“But what’s scary, at first everyone wanted to go to an air raid shelter when they heard sirens,” she said, “but then it happened so many times throughout the night that … their minds started to normalize, and now they just sleep.” through. ”

Hrynkiv is finding it increasingly difficult to send money to his family.

“It’s difficult,” he said, “because MoneyGram charges almost 30 percent when I’m trying to send a few hundred dollars.”

He tries a Ukrainian credit union, but in order for his niece to receive what he sends in dollars – and not in the less stable Ukrainian currency, the hryvnia – she has to open a special bank account.

How can the war be won?

Masha and Hrynkov both said that Putin will not stop, but must be stopped.

“NATO, if they create a no-fly zone,” Masha said, “the moment they announce that, World War III will officially happen. Putin would consider this a declaration of war. I really don’t know how this is going to end.”

Hrynkiv does not believe that Putin would start a nuclear war “because he does not want to be killed”. But neither will he end the war until all resources are exhausted.

“He wants to be king of the world,” said Hrynkiv. “He wants to control the universe, or at least planet Earth.”

But Kulchytska is adamant that Ukraine will win in the end. Ukrainian morale is high, as are Russian casualties.

Her friends at the front tell her: “Russian corpses are lying on the ground everywhere. The Russians have a cremator on wheels to burn the amount of Russian bodies they have because they can’t collect them. You cannot physically return them to their families.”

Their friends at the front have even reported that Russian morale is so low that some Russian soldiers have dropped their weapons.

“I think in people’s hearts,” said Kulchytska. “There is no question that we will win”

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