Ukraine War Weighs On Student’s Mind

Isabel Shaw and Giulia Campora, Staff Writers

“I remember the moment I found out about the war. I stepped out of my public speaking class and checked Instagram. Everywhere was news that Russia had invaded Ukraine and started a war. Frantically, I called my husband because I could not believe it was real. When he said it was true, I cried,” said Iana Dunaevskaia, a 33-year-old nursing major.
Dunaevskaia is from Russia and still has family there. Watching as her homeland invades another sovereign nation has been painful.
“I am devastated watching Ukrainians suffer for no reason. I have friends in Ukraine, and one is a former Brookdale student, Vitaliy Nikolaenko. My friends have relatives and family in Ukraine. They are all scared and do not know if they will live to see tomorrow,” Dunaevskaia said.
How can this be? In the 21st century? After the knowledge about what happened in World War II? Didn’t we learn anything from our history?
As the war continues to rage, feelings of fear and helplessness have overtaken Dunaevskaia. With family still in Russia, she fears her brother may be called into the army. With tighter travel restrictions and isolation from other countries, the chances of seeing her family again have diminished.
With Russia facing tougher sanctions each day the war continues; the country is facing another economic crisis, Dunaevskaia explained. There will be a critical shortage of products, and citizens will lose all their savings along with their jobs.
The value of real estate in Russia has plummeted. For those who own property in the country, prices have dropped to almost 60 percent of their original value. A condominium originally worth $80,000, is now worth approximately $20,000. Dunaevskaia also has an apartment in Russia that stands to lose the bulk of its worth.
“I feel weak and sad that I can do nothing to stop this war,” she said. “The Russian people are still suffering from the trauma of World War II. And now there will be a new generation of citizens living in fear. And the psychological trauma of this senseless war will continue to reverberate throughout the world.
“I felt guilty and angry that we as Russians allowed Putin to be president. I feel disgusted by him, but the reality is there have been no real elections for a long time. There are those who wish to move in a new direction, but everyone knows the results of our elections before they even start,” Dunaevskaia said.
Putin’s choice to invade Ukraine is a senseless act of aggression. “I cannot believe there was no possibility of reaching some kind of compromise or agreement without going to war,” she said.
Another problem is that all access to world news is blocked by the Russian government. “Many cities do not even have access to the internet. The only news Russians get is from state-run TV. None of that news is true, so most people do not know what is happening,” Dunaevskaia said.
I helped gather donations of humanitarian aid and sent it to Ukraine. I hope to do a larger fundraiser at Brookdale to help Ukrainians with medicine, money, and military supplies Dunaevskaia said.
The National Society of Leadership and Success is planning to do a fundraiser in the Fall and as the Vice President of the International Students Association club I hope to collaborate with them for that event.
“Unfortunately, there is not too much that we can do today. We can send humanitarian aid and money to Ukraine, but it will not stop the war. The only thing that can help stop this war is to stop one person, and we all know who it is.”