(NewsNation) — Two women are staying in Ukraine, putting their lives and careers on hold, to document the Russian invasion online, saying they want to be “the eyes of the world inside the country.”
Alina Vrublevska, who works in fashion PR, and fashion photographer Anna are chronicling their everyday life using an online journal. Vrublevska told NewsNation that she is living in between an apartment and a bomb shelter and many of her friends have left. She has the ability to leave the country if possible but she said she has faith in her country.
“Crossing the border is possible because countries around, show a higher level of hospitality, they accept our refugees, they help with the placement inside the country, they provide food,” Vrublevska said on “Morning in America.” “But for us, we decided that we trust our government, we believe in our country, and we believe that we can be here and be still useful on our luck with what we can do so we can show the world we can be the eyes of the world inside the country and show what’s actually happening. So like, while we feel that we are useful, we chose to stay”
Russian troops kept up pressure on Ukraine’s capital and air raid sirens were heard across the besieged country overnight, even as diplomatic talks between the two sides resumed on Monday. Prospects for a speedy end to the fighting, however, appear dim.
The attacks around the capital, Kyiv, came a day after Russia escalated its offensive by shelling areas close to the Polish border, including a training base critical to Ukraine’s defense. Ukrainian officials said at least 35 people were killed and 134 wounded when more than 30 cruise missiles were fired at the Yavoriv military facility on Sunday. It was the major, most westward target struck so far in the 18-day invasion.
Vrublevska believes it is their duty to document and share their stories and photos with the world.
“Most of the businesses are open but we don’t have to forget about the cities they’re totally cut off, they’ve cut off the shops like food, water,” Vrublevska said. “Even our government, no matter how they try, they cannot guarantee the safety of people there because Russians don’t let people escape. They don’t let citizens escape the city.”
Vrublevska pleaded with the fashion industry to stop working in the Russian market to further stress the reality of the situation to the Russian public.
“We think that one of the most effective ways the fashion industry can help is to embargo exports of fashion and beauty products, luxury products in Russia. So we think that if all brands stop working within the Russian market, in the times of progression, this will help actually Russian citizens to understand that what they see on TV is not true,” Vrublevska said. “Because one of the biggest problems is the huge level of propaganda inside Russia and people who are educated, who lived there, they just don’t understand that what they are saved from TV is not true. So we think that the more company’s been working with Russia right now, the more it helps to ordinary people to feel that faction, and to understand what the world is trying to say to them.”
U.S. President Joe Biden announced last week the U.S. will move to revoke “most favored nation” trade status for Russia over its invasion of Ukraine along with banning several imported goods. The White House has also implemented sanctions against Russia as well as a a ban on Russian oil imports.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.