Ukrainians in Cedar Mill

Andriy Kot came from Ukraine to the US to study, and his wife Khrystyna Porseva followed six years later. They have lived in Cedar Mill for three years. They agreed to share some of their story with us to bring this horrible situation into perspective at home.

The Kot family visiting Mt. St. Helens.

Andriy explained that the expressions of support are helpful, but he hopes we don’t just move on to the next crisis and forget about Ukraine.

Close relatives on both sides live in western Ukraine, with others in central and southern parts of the country. They have been speaking with them through Skype—the other messaging and connection services are still working but it’s hard to connect with anyone in Kyiv.

While currently there is no bombing in western Ukraine, their relatives hear air raid sirens several times a day and life is very stressful. Andriy and Khrystyna have been able to send money to them but at this point they are not trying to leave Ukraine. The situation is changing rapidly though, so nobody is certain what will happen.

I mentioned that it makes me think of Hitler and Andriy replied, “Ukrainian people have been thinking of Hitler since 2008. Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. The war in Ukraine started in 2014 with the occupation of Crimea, followed by an insurrection in Donbass orchestrated by Russia.’

Cedar Mill Landscape Supply
Khrystyna Porseva in a traditional Ukrainian costume

“We might like to think that Russians are opposing this, but most Russians accept the propaganda. It’s great that some are brave enough to protest, but it’s only a few thousand out of a Russian population of 160 million. We can’t count on the Russian people to stop Putin.”

“Putin has also begun to threaten Finland and Sweden. Although the Romanian government said the Romanian jet that went down was weather related, it’s still highly suspicious that a jet and a helicopter ‘crashed’ within a period of one hour. This isn’t going to end with Ukraine.”

As far as ways we can help, he says we must encourage our government, along with others, to close Ukrainian air space to Russian planes. That’s where the greatest danger will come from. Contact your representatives and join demonstrations if you are able.

It’s unclear if we will eventually have Ukrainian refugees in Oregon. Khrystyna says, “people from east and west are united as never before. Our relatives in western Ukraine assist the refugees that arrive from the east.”

Andriy agrees that it’s gratifying that almost all European nations are welcoming Ukrainian refugees, and even Japan has offered them a place. But it’s awful that people are being driven from their homes.

A recent article on the KOIN website includes some ways to help. There’s a local Ukrainian Facebook Group that is collecting funds and partnering with Medical Teams International to send supplies. But as Andriy says, keeping our attention focused on the situation is one of the best ways we can help.

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