For many people in the United States, the tensions between Russia and Ukraine have been a far-off topic. Ukranians, however, have been grappling with it for decades. Now those tensions have turned into Russia’s invasion of a sovereign nation as Ukrainians fight to defend their borders against a much larger country and military force.
It has become all the more clear over the past week that this struggle doesn’t only impact Ukraine and the surrounding region. It has wider-reaching, global implications for democracy and the right of sovereignty and self-determination.
From schoolteachers and nurses forming civilian militias, to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s defiant “I need ammunition, not a ride” remark in response to a US offer for evacuation, Ukranians are ready for a fight. Ordinary citizens have taken up arms to defend their neighborhoods, launched fundraising campaigns to supply the Ukrainian military, and used social media to raise global awareness of the conflict.
Vladyslav Stadnyk, a Ukrainian living in Kyiv, is one person who has been at the forefront of these efforts. From sharing videos that illuminate the war’s historical underpinnings to organizing a campaign to procure body armor for troops, Stadnyk is the embodiment of Ukraine’s spirited resistance. We spoke to him about what’s going on in Ukraine right now, what he’s seeing, and how you can help.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Matador Network: What is the situation like right now?
Vladyslav Stadnyk: Right now I am located at a safe place in the mountains and don’t see any Russian troops. Although blasts and sirens are being heard all over the country, and people with kids and pets are running to metro stations several times a day to find shelter.
How are you getting information and communicating with loved ones?
We’re getting all of the information only from official sources via social media and websites. With loved ones we communicate via phone and internet like usual.
What’s the mood like?
At the moment more than anything we feel anger! Anger and willingness to fight for our country.
How would you respond to those who believe it’s not the responsibility of the US and other Western powers to defend Ukraine?
In 1994, Ukraine willingly gave up one of the largest nuclear arsenals in the world under an agreement that the US and the UK will defend Ukraine if that time comes. Well, that time has come!
The fight in Ukraine is not only the fight for our country. It is the fight for freedom of the entire world, and it is our joint responsibility to defend it.
There’s been a tendency to view this conflict through a political lens. Can you explain why what’s happening in Ukraine is a human issue, rather than a political issue?
It is not about politics. It is not about a specific people or parties. It is about people’s right to be choosing their own destiny and defending their way of life.
How can people in the US and around the world help Ukraine?
Everyone in the US and around the world can put pressure on their governments to give real support to Ukraine. We need the US and NATO to protect our sky. And also cut Russia from SWIFT. Every letter and call to a local politician can help make that happen.
Where can people go for accurate, reliable information on what’s happening?
I urge everyone to be reading only official Ukrainian government sources on social media and their websites.
Is there anything else you think an American audience should know about the conflict?
Ukrainians are fighting not only for our country but for the entire way of life that is common for our nations. And we will defend it!
How do people feel about Ukraine barring adult men from leaving the country, as they may be required to serve in the armed forces?
We have to do what we have to do to defend our country.