‘A chauvinistic form of imperialism’: Local Ukrainian-Canadians watch as Russia invades


As the world wakes up to the reality of a full-scale, Russian military invasion of Ukraine, there are somber moments of solidarity in Victoria, and fear for those in the war zone.

“My cousin’s family lives close to Luhansk, where the hardest fight last night,” said Oksana Poberezhnyk, a Ukrainian Candian who lives in Duncan. “They’re alive, they had to hide in a root cellar.”

More than 40 million Ukrainians were jolted from their sleep – waking to a war zone.

“I feel terrified for them,” said 19-year-old Ukranian Canadian, Erik Chepkyyvn.

Thursday, hundreds of thousands are trying to flee the Russian invasion. Like Stan’s Korotky’s cousin, aunt, and nephews.

“She said very short – war,” said Korotky, reading his cousin Marina Bratskaiya’s Facebook messages to him.

Bratskaiya has three sons from ages four to 14 and was studying English language and literature at Kyiv University.

As of today, Bratskaiya, her sons, husband, and 70-year-old mother have abandoned their home of Kyiv, instead, tonight they’re sleeping in a bomb shelter in western Ukraine.

“She said Ukraine is alone in this fight,” said Korotky.

It’s a fight, that actually began years ago.

“Let’s be clear, Russia had already invaded Ukraine,” said Tamara Krawchenko.

Krawchenko’s sister’s family was torn apart in 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

“Her own children have never seen their grandparents because they are in Donbas-occupied territories. If they leave, they will lose their jobs, is essentially what the regime has said,” said Krawchenko.

Now, they’re fleeing as Putin pushes further into Ukraine.

“This brings things out in the open. This is a full-scale invasion of a democratic European country. It is grotesque. It has no place in this century. It is a chauvinistic form of imperialism,” said Krawchenko. “Putin has long used the language of annihilation against Ukrainians. He’s been building up this distorted view and trying to make it so that it’s ok to kill Ukrainians.”

The world watching, a pivotal time in Ukraine’s history.

“We’re not going to roll over in the face of Russian imperialist chauvinism. No,” said Krawchenko.

As one man attempts to redraw maps – and history.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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