What Ukrainian students at EGHS are saying about the Russian invasion

Luka Turanjanin, Sectional Editor

When Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military operation to invade Ukraine in February, the news shocked sophomore Vladyslava Ovsiienko.

“It’s just like a nightmare, because no one really thought that it would happen,” she said. “Everyone said it would never happen. We thought it wasn’t true.”

After about two months of Russian bombardment and Ukrainian resistance, the weight of the Russia-Ukraine conflict has concerned the lives of millions of Ukrainians, including the ones that attend Elk Grove High School.

“In the 21st century, it’s unbelievable to think they [Ukraine] are being invaded,” Osviienko said.

Ovsiienko was born and raised in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city. She lived there for 15 years before moving to Elk Grove two years ago. Osviienko said she still checks her phone every minute for updates as to how her country is holding up.

“Every time there’s a bombing, I feel empty,” Ovsiienko said. “It’s scary, it’s terrifying.”

Osviienko’s friends and family have sought refuge outside of Ukraine, having escaped to countries such as Germany, Poland and Slovenia. She said she believes all her family has left Ukraine at this point.

Ever since the invasion began, roughly 5 million Ukrainians have left the country seeking refuge across Europe, making it one of the largest refugee crises since World War II.

Even with the war still going on back in their home country, many Elk Grove Ukrainian students are impressed with their nation’s resilience to the Russian invasion.

“In the beginning, I thought Russia could take over the whole country in a few days,” senior Iurii Laba said. “In a few days, I’ve seen Ukraine take care of Russia. Few weeks into the war, the Ukrainian soldiers were more powerful and resistant than I thought against Russia.”

Most of Laba’s family lives further west into Ukraine, near Poland. They haven’t seen any Russian soldiers in their towns, but they do hear air sirens for when Russian planes are flying in their area, according to Laba. 

“I speak with my grandparents, and they always speak about being scared and about what’s going to happen when they [Russian forces] come into their cities,” he said. 

In regards to Ukraines ability to fight back against incoming Russian forces, Laba said he was impressed with his nation’s resistance, and he said he praises Ukraine’s president for his ability to lead the nation at this time.