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Ukrainian filmmaker with Milwaukee ties shares her story from inside Ukraine

 Oksana Ivanyuch
Screen capture from Zoom
Oksana Ivanyuch standing on a street near her home in the center of Kyiv.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already cost thousands of lives and displaced countless others. Ukrainians are continuing to defend their homeland, as troops from Belarus have joined Russian forces in attacking the country. Russia is accused of targeting Ukrainian civilians during the attack, while Russian civilians are struggling under the weight of international sanctions that have destroyed the value of the ruble and cut them off from the global community.

As the invasion continues, Ukrainians are working to defend themselves with whatever they have available. Oksana Ivanyuk is a Ukrainian filmmaker and journalist with loved ones in Milwaukee. She joins Lake Effect from the streets of Kyiv, where her neighbors were preparing Molotov cocktails as bombing continued near the city.

molotov cocktails
Screen capture from Zoom
Oksana Ivanyuk's neighbors are collecting empty bottles to make Molotov cocktails.

"Those who are here, they're not panicking, you know. Even when an alarm is on, siren is on, people don't really start to rush. Everybody's getting used to it. There are some people with luggage probably trying to leave the city, but to be honest not a lot of people left," Ivanyuk explains.

She continues, "Men are creating small military teams and the whole city is divided into districts and they're defending those districts. They're building block posts around districts and they check passports, they check if you're driving, they check your trunk."

Ivanyuk says the territorial defense troops test people as they come by with particular Ukrainian words that are very difficult for Russians to pronounce and questions about Ukrainian poetry.

As for how people are feeling, she says people are angry, but not afraid. Still, people need food and supplies.

At the moment, she says the international community is doing a lot for Ukraine. The harsh sanctions against Russia from the United States and European Union are a real help, and the country has begun receiving weapons from other countries, which, Ivanyuk says, they are grateful for.

"It might be the beginning of the third world war, and we all together need to stop it. And you know, we are trying our best, but we won't be able to do it just by Ukraine and Ukrainians," she says.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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