The United States is on high alert for a war between Russia & Ukraine after tensions between the two are continuing to rise.
Douglas Braff spoke with local students who have ethnic ties to those countries to get a local reaction on this issue.
“I’m a really great example of what is ‘Ukrainian’. And the whole discussion the difference between Russian and Ukrainian I am Ukrainian. It’s my nationality, that’s where my
heart is. I grew up as a Ukrainian citizen.”
Yuliya Ladygina is both Russian and Ukrainian. She immigrated from Ukraine to the U.S. in 2001. She is an assistant professor in Russians studies and advises both the Russian
and Ukrainian clubs at Penn State. She points out that not all Russians support Putin.
“Not all Russian people are pro-Putin. Right? When we say pro-Russian, we mean pro-Kremlin.”
Especially the descendants of Russians who immigrated in the 90s and 2000s.
“They came here for a reason, right? They came here because their experiences of Putin’s Russia and Kremlin’s rule were not as positive.”
One Ukrainian whose parents immigrated to the U.S. is Maria Smereka the President of the Ukrainian Society at Penn State.
“Being Ukrainian is just a huge part of who I am. Most of my relatives are still living in Ukraine. And while they’re on the western side, if anything happens with the
Russian invasion, they’re going to be affected as well. I’m concerned for their safety.”
Both say Ukrainians and Russians are experiencing stress right now.
“There is this sense of anxiety, but there is also this sense of community, where people come together and we have a lot of discussions going on that help us handle that
level of stress, and anxiety, and concern.”
But Smereka tells me she has hope.
“Whenever I call my mom and I get extremely stressed and worried about the situation, for our family She always tells me, Maria Which just translates to
‘Hope is the last thing that dies.'”