An intimate look at the Russia-Ukraine War

Clio Koh, News Editor

We asked these LOHS students to share their perspective with Lake Views: senior Julien Dochez (JD), senior Alexei Darling (AD), sophomore Veronica Horyelov (VH), sophomore Sophia Kamsha (SK) and freshman Emily Toronjo (ET); along with Anastasiia, a fourteen year old currently living in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, which had been under attack by Russian forces. 

What’s your relationship with Ukraine? (family, friends, culture, heritage, etc)

JD: My mom was born and raised in Ukraine, so my entire maternal side of the family lives there. 

Anastasiia: I was born in Ukraine. I’m Ukrainian. My family and friends live here. I love my country. Love for our people, for their bravery and unity. Ukraine has a rich history with its OWN culture, traditions, beliefs, ups and downs. And nobody can object to it! Ukraine is the country I want to live in. The country I want to defend. Glory to Ukraine!

AD: My mom grew up in Soviet Belarus, and my grandma and extended family still lives there. VH: My whole family lives in Ukraine, like my grandparents and cousins. I think it’s safe to say that I’m Ukrainian. My grandparents live in Kiev, and the rest of the family lives in [countryside] villages and cities.

ET: My relationship with Ukraine is that my mom was born there, she lived there for basically her whole life, and moved to the U.S when she was 30. Her whole family is still there. 

SK: I am the first generation- only one in my family to be born here. My parents and brother immigrated to the US in 1999, but my remaining living family are all in Ukraine (5 grandparents, two cousins, aunt, uncle, plus a lot of friends there). Ukrainian is my first language, I speak it at home, attend cultural events, etc. 

How did you feel when you first heard the news? What were the reactions of people around you?

JD: At first, I was a bit confused, it seems very unnecessary and messy so I’m not too angry, just scared for my family. My mom was pretty hurt- last weekend was fairly stressful- and she’s been volunteering and helping out. 

Anastasiia: I remember how anxious I was. I didn’t understand what was happening. I woke up because my family was talking about something. I asked them why they had been awake and heard an answer that the Russian army had attacked Ukrainian cities. How did they know it if there wasn’t any news? They heard explosions. [Our] first reaction was to grab all vital things and documents, and if something happens, run to the house’s basement. My family didn’t know what exactly we had to do. 

VH: I felt shocked when I first heard the news. It was my grandpa calling me, he said that a bomb just landed near Kiev, and that he’s going to get my grandma and they’re going to leave. They didn’t give much explanation about it. I talked to them [Monday 2/28] and he said they couldn’t get very far- about an hour away from Kiev. 

ET: I was honestly really shocked, never in my wildest dreams could I imagine something like this happening to a country in this day in age, let alone Ukraine where my family is. I hoped that the situation would be settled, but obviously not. My immediate family was devastated and scared and it’s taking a toll on my mom and dad. [Though] everyone around me at school has been really supportive and making sure I’m alright. 

SK: Last went to visit in 2015. Mainly I was worried about my family, although it didn’t come as a surprise in the slightest. We had been trying to convince my grandparents to come to America since almost 2014 since the annexation of Crimea.

What is some misinformation that’s circulating around?

JD: There’s definitely a lot of propaganda going on, not just on one side, I hear a lot of stories that the Russian people don’t even know there’s a war, and then on our side, there’s also the ghost of Kiev, we don’t know if he’s real or not. I think in this day in age, we get to see a lot of information on social media, but that’s also the issue, we don’t know what’s real and what’s not. 

Anastasiia: There is so much misinformation that Russia posts in the media. For example, it is FAKE that the Ukrainian army has been killing Ukrainian civilians in the east of Ukraine for eight years [during] the war. The TRUTH is that Russia itself has been killing our Ukrainian people for all these eight years. Please, check all the information and share only the true ones!

AD: Since this is the first war with the Internet, I think there’s been a lot of misinformation on there. One example is with Snake Island, where they said several Ukrainian soldiers were killed but they are actually still alive. Another one is the ghost of Kyiv. Russia has put out a lot of propaganda regarding fabricated violence against citizens, that the Ukrianians are Nazis, and that Ukraine was plotting to invade Donbas, which is a city in the Russian separatist region of eastern Ukraine. 

VH: Putin is saying Ukraine is committing genocide against Russians, which is not true at all. Half of Ukrainians are basically Russians, and a lot of Ukrainians are living in Russia.

ET: A lot of the information comes from Russia spreading it to their own people, they’ve been telling people that Ukraine is theirs by right or that the people are threats to Russia. 

What’s your fear or hope for the future?

JD: I hope this ends soon, I think it’s already messy enough, and I hope Putin learns he can’t do this. I think Russia is going to be in a bad state for a long time after this war no matter how [this] ends. I think more people should be looking towards alliances like NATO to keep themselves safe from bullies like him. 

Anastasiia: I believe in the Ukrainian army. I believe in people who are now fighting for the freedom of Ukraine. And I’m sure that all the difficulties we are going through now make us an unbreakable nation. Our national consciousness and unity have risen as never before. I hope that the war will end as soon as possible with our victory.

VH: A fear would be Belarus sending troops to help the Russia troops against Ukraine. [So far] Ukraine has been good at counterattacks.