Russia-Ukraine conflict: Voices from the ground of the invasion

Russia At War

(NewsNation Now) —  An economics student who is ready to enlist in the Ukrainian army. An American translator staying behind in Ukraine to be with his family comparing Russian leadership to terrorists.

Both are from entirely different backgrounds with vastly different life experiences. But both are on the ground of Russia’s wide-ranging attack on Ukraine. Cities and bases have been hit with airstrikes or shelling Thursday, as civilians piled into trains and cars to flee. At least 40 people are dead. NATO’s chief said the “brutal act of war” shattered peace on the European continent.

Taras Petro, an American translator in Ukraine, said the people he has been living with have been drafted into the war. Nazar Zinchuk, a student at Franko National University, said he is watching fellow Ukrainians buy weapons or flee the country.

Both men shared their thoughts on Europe’s “darkest hours” since World War II. One said he is ready to go fight for his country, while the other compared Russian President Vladimir Putin to Osama bin Laden. Here are their stories.

Below are excerpts from the interviews, edited for clarity and length.

Will Ukraine put up a fight?

“I was ready. And a year ago, and two years ago, and five years ago, I’m ready always to take the weapon and to go and fight for my country,” Zinchuk said in part. “We are here and we will defend our country.”

“I think that if Putin does step further into Ukraine, then Osama bin Putin really does underestimate the Ukrainian army and the education,” Petro said. “The training that they’ve had since being invaded in 2014.”

Are sanctions making a difference?

“We don’t need these sanctions now. We need straight help,” Zinchuk said. “Straight military help, because this war will be massive. It’s a massive war and it’s very hard to talk about this.”

“The sanctions should have happened two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and some of this could have been avoided to show the Russian government that the United States still has a say in this conflict,” Petro said. “This diplomatic conflict that not only Ukraine or Russia or America will suffer but all of Europe.”

What they are seeing on the ground?

“I can see (Ukrainian citizens are) riding their cars to the stores to buy weapons, that’s the only way to buy weapons,” Zinchuk said. “Nobody’s waiting.”

“I have to put my faith in the soldiers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. They are actually actively recruiting them,” Petro said. “Shortly after the explosion, about an hour after that, there was a knock at the door of where I’m staying. And they had two summonses for two of the military police officers that I’m living with to pack their go-bag. And they have two to three hours, and they’re being drafted to the war.”

“We knew it was coming. But nobody knew when. But we knew it was coming in,” Petro said.

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, NewsNation will bring Americans the latest developments from abroad and insights into its impact at home throughout our newscasts. We’re dropping the paywall on our live stream so it’s available to everyone. You can watch NewsNation’s programming, including the latest on Ukraine, at the top of the hour from 7 to 10 a.m. and 5 to 11 p.m. ET.

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