A year since Russia’s Ukraine invasion, Ukrainians continue to fight for their freedom

March 1, 2023, 4:40 pm
Sierra D'Souza Butts

The Ukrainian families from the community who attended an evening event that was dedicated to welcoming and meeting the new people who moved to in Moosomin in the last year. The event was hosted by the Spiritual Care Family and Friends Group on Dec. 8  at the legion.  In order of family grouping are Ludmilla, Yuri, Tatiana, and their son Nikita Ponamarenko (in front), Ivan and Diana Kuchynska, Anna, Roman, and Marina Chernykh, Valentyn and Irena Karpenko, Roman and Julia Marynets, Olha and her daughter Zlata Volokh (on the other side of Julia), Roman Swed (in back), and Irena Gorbynovt and Oxa

With February 24 being a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started, Roman Chernykh spoke out about it being a time to recognize the strength Ukrainians have shown by continuing to fight for their freedom for over a year now.

“This is a point in time where we feel that we’ve survived this year, that we haven’t lost our strength, but have gotten stronger,” said Chernykh.

“It shows that we have support from all over the world. Every family that I’ve met knows what’s going on in Ukraine, every person I’ve met has expressed their thoughts and are thinking about the people who are still in Ukraine.

“This is just a point in time that shows we have survived this year.

“They’ve tried to kill us by destroying all of the power plants in Ukraine. They’ve tried to kill us by cutting all of the supplies of water, and all of the important infrastructure like the hospitals, the schools, they’ve destroyed all of that and we’re still here. We survived.”

Chernykh moved from Ukraine to Moosomin about a decade ago with his family.

On the day of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, he and other Ukrainian families in Moosomin came together to brainstorm ideas on how the community could help support the people in Ukraine who were suffering.

Since then, the community has raised over $100,000 and has donated every day necessities and other supplies to help people in Ukraine.

Although the attack on Ukraine began a year ago, Chernykh said the damage is still being done to the people of Ukraine.

“For many people the 24th of February was the starting point of the war because when it happened in Crimea, people were still debating if they wanted to get into a fight with such a strong enemy,” he said.

“But, Feb. 24 proved that it just wasn’t going to be all about Crimea. It became about the existence of the Ukraine nation.

“With the things they are doing right now by sending the kids from Ukraine to summer camps, it’s the same thing that the Germans did to the Jews.

“Those kids are being located in those summer camps, and the people guarding those camps are military men. Why would military people be supervising kids? There’s only one reason, to change their mentality, to change their identity, to remove the language, to remove everything else.

“But, we will find every kid and we will bring them back home. I have belief in that because the rest of the world is with us. There were nice words made by President Joe Biden, he said, ‘Ukraine is still free and independent after one year of a brutal fight.’”

Chernykh said people in Ukraine have shown great strength to continue fighting for their freedom within the last year of the war.

“We learned that once someone tries to take away our freedom, nobody knows what we’re capable of too,” he said.

“We’re going to keep fighting, we want that freedom back.

“It’s not that easy to just take away people’s freedom, people will respond.”

He was asked how he thinks people in Ukraine continue to have the strength, both mentally and physically, to continue to fight every day.

“Something I heard last week was about a person who survived, he said three things that really had me thinking,” Chernykh said.

“He said the first people he knew who died that they people believed that they could not win today.

“That the second group of people who died were people who thought everything was going to be alright the next day.

“Then the people who survived are people who never thought about anything, they just live their life day-to-day. That’s what people who are in Ukraine are doing right now.

“Of course in the back of everyone’s minds they think about winning, but to actually win, what’s that going to mean?

“There’s 100,000 people who have died at this point right now, and what is the meaning of winning going to be for us? It’s not going to a win, it’s just going to be a war after war. The war will finish as sudden as it started.”

Chernykh said he is not sure how much longer the attack on Ukraine will continue, but has hope that Ukrainians will continue to fight back to save the country’s legacy.

“I know for sure people will fight until the last day,” he said.

“As sad as it is to hear, but this is all about the existence of one nation. It’s about the survival of democracy. Are we going to survive? Are we going to be free people?

“A scary thought that I have is, what will happen if Russia wins? That’s my question. For the rest of the world, what is that going to mean?

“That’s a scary thing to think because if all of those bureaucratic regimes are going to think if Russia did it, then we can too.

“I think for the rest of the civil war people understand that Ukraine has to win this war.

“Why wouldn’t we need to win?”