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Dispatches from Ukraine

Ukrainians sign up to fight Russian aggression

Tetiana Ostapenko in Kiev.
(Submitted Photo)

Tetiana Ostapenko in Kiev. (Submitted Photo)

Editor’s Note: This is one of an occasional series of dispatches on the crisis in Ukraine as reported by Tetiana Ostapenko, a Ukrainian journalist with ties to Franklin County.

It’s hard for anyone to stay positive and optimistic these days.

Russia announced Crimea is its territory. Ukrainians don’t believe that Putin’s aggression will stop. It seems his goal is to revive the Russian empire.

Opinions are split. Some say our army is good for nothing. We gave up Crimea to Russia without any shot. If we can’t help ourselves, nobody will help us. How can the United States and the European Union help us if we can’t help ourselves?

Others are disappointed by the European Union and the United States, who promised to make economic sanctions against people within the Russian government, but they are left just promises. Putin is not afraid of sanctions because they are weak.

This week the inhabitants of our district are donating humanitarian help to the sailors of the Black Sea navy.

Some days ago, a load of food products and generators were carried to sailors. People collect at least five tons of products. Today they’ve sent a big trailer filled with products for the soldiers in the Herson region.

I saw old and young people carrying vegetables, meat, buckwheat, sunflower oil, fruits.

Some came up to ask: “What do you want us to buy?”

It was very touching, especially when the older ones came. They earned pensions barely enough to make both ends meet and needed help themselves. One older woman, Valentyna Zagrebelna, brought a large plastic bag filled with food.

With tears in her eyes, she left saying: “Nobody wants the war.”

The mobilization goes on. Yesterday I visited a recruitment office. I saw many men at the entrance of building. I was told more than 60 volunteers came to say they are ready to join the army, including two female medical nurses.

One man, Olexandr Ohrimchuk, 20, has already served in the army. Born and raised in Nemyriv, he works in Kiev in security. He says many of his friends decided to join the army in order to defeat the motherland.

But Olexandr believes there will be no war. He sets his hopes on NATO help.

A second young man, Sergiy, believes those who support annexation of Crimea should move to Russia. What will we do if tomorrow somebody wants to join Crimea to Turkey? Sergiv asks.

Ukrainians condemn Russia and its military aggression. Another man, Petro, says it is too late to fight in Crimea. We lost time. It’s necessary to fortify the regions of our country, to dig trenches at the borders. It will defend the country against broader invasion.

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