As the world wakes up to the reality of a full-scale Russian military invasion of Ukraine, there are dark moments of solidarity in Victoria and fear for those in the war zone.
“My cousin’s family lives near Luhansk, where the fighting was heaviest last night,” said Oksana Poberezhnyk, a Ukrainian Canadian who lives in Duncan. “They are alive, they must have been hiding in a root cellar.”
More than 40 million Ukrainians have been roused from their sleep – waking up in a war zone.
“I feel terrified for them,” said 19-year-old Ukrainian Canadian Erik Chepkyyvn.
Thursday, hundreds of thousands try to flee the Russian invasion. Like Stan’s Korotky cousin, aunt and nephews.
“She said very short – war,” said Korotky, reading his cousin Marina Bratskaiya’s Facebook posts to him.
Bratskaiya has three sons aged 4 to 14 and was studying English language and literature at Kiev University.
To date, Bratskaiya, her sons, husband and 70-year-old mother have abandoned their Kiev home, instead tonight they are sleeping in a bomb shelter in western Ukraine.
“She said Ukraine was alone in this fight,” Korotky said.
This is a fight that started years ago.
“Let’s be clear, Russia had already invaded Ukraine,” Tamara Krawchenko said.
Krawchenko’s sister’s family was torn apart in 2014 when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.
“His own children have never seen their grandparents because they are in the territories occupied by Donbass. If they leave, they will lose their jobs, that’s basically what the regime said,” Krawchenko said.
Now they are fleeing as Putin pushes further into Ukraine.
“That clarifies things. This is a full-scale invasion of a democratic European country. It’s grotesque. It has no place in this century. It is a chauvinistic form of imperialism,” Krawchenko said. “Putin has long used the language of annihilation against Ukrainians. He constructs this distorted view and tries to make it acceptable to kill Ukrainians.
The world is watching, a pivotal period in the history of Ukraine.
“We are not going to give in to Russian imperialist chauvinism. No,” Krawchenko said.
Like a man tries to redraw the maps – and history.