Last Wednesday night around 10:00 p.m., King’s University College student Sasha Moskalenko was heading to bed when he received a frantic text from a friend.
Dnieper is being bombed right now. I’m very scared. I don’t know what’s happening. Text your relatives.
“That’s when I realized everything had started,” said Moskalenko, a third-year BMOS student. As he monitored news sites, he watched as war broke out across his homeland of Ukraine.
“I started seeing that Kyiv was bombed, Dnieper was bombed, Odesa, all the major cities,” he said.
His greatest concern is his immediate family, who all live in Kyiv.
“My parents, my younger sister, my older sister and her boyfriend are all together, living about 20 kilometres from the city’s core,” he said. “They are as safe as it gets there right now.”
He worries about his grandmother, who lives across the city in an apartment building. “She didn’t have enough time to escape because the bombing started at four in the morning,” he said.
Moskalenko, who attended high school in Port Hope, Ont. before coming to Western, last saw his family two weeks ago, before returning to London, Ont. when in-person classes resumed.
“Everything was fine then,” he said. “And now the biggest and scariest thing is I don’t know when I’ll see my family again because I don’t know when the war will be over.”
Western News spoke with Moskalenko Friday, Feb. 25, as he continued to monitor the news and receive messages from home.
Western News: I’m very sorry for what is happening in your homeland. How are you doing?
Sasha Moskalenko: It’s tough, really tough. I’m on the phone 24/7, trying to check in with my parents as much as I can.
WN: How is your family?
Moskalenko: Obviously, they’re all scared. They sleep in the basement. They are too scared to sleep in the house because they hear the bombing.
I just heard from my grandmother five minutes ago and more bombing is happening in Kyiv.
If the invasion is going to happen, it will happen one to two kilometres from her home. She lives near the bridge, and they will use bridges to go to the other side to capture the capital.
I also have a lot of friends there who didn’t flee the city because they didn’t want to, or they couldn’t get out.
WN: What are they telling you?
Moskalenko: Everyone is scared. No one knows what is going to happen next.
One of my friends told me she can hear people shooting each other outside of her house. People can hear the bombs and sirens and they’re just supposed to sit around the dinner table and pretend that nothing’s happening.
I just received a picture from my friend in Kyiv. All the roads where she lives are closed and she cannot move out from her house. Every second, my friends are sending me information. They are worried. It’s only getting worse.
WN: Is there anything you want Canadians, Londoners and the Western community to know?
Moskalenko: The worst thing to see on the news is people reacting and saying, “It’s not going to touch us, so why would we worry. It’s not going to affect our country; it’s too far away from Russia and Ukraine, this is your conflict, you should solve it yourself.” This is the worst because Ukraine didn’t do anything to Russia. We never attacked them. We never shot a rocket at their cities. They just started a full massive war invasion for no reason, other than saying (without any truth to it) that our government are Nazis, and they captured Ukraine.
WN: What do you think about the sanctions and response of NATO allies?
The sanctions have been helpful for Ukraine and bad for the Russian economy. We are receiving help from Poland, Hungary, and all the European countries because they understand that if Russia captures Ukraine, they are next.
WN: Your friends and family, what will they do? Will they stay there?
Moskalenko: What are their options? Borders are closed. One of my friends has been in line for 15 hours. They moved from Kyiv to the Poland border two days ago, when everything started. They are trying to get out and they can’t.
WN: This is very hard situation that many of us in the Western community can’t imagine. We know this is a very difficult time and are thinking of you.
Moskalenko: We can only wait and see. I just hope I wake up tomorrow and Ukraine is still there. That’s the best wish I’m looking for.
Edited for clarity and brevity
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