Ever since the Malaysian airline disappeared, the Ukrainian conflict seems to have disappeared from news media. However, the troubles are still quite real, especially for Ukrainian native and Covington resident, Yana Obolenska-Moran.
“Mrs. Yana,” as she is known to many St. Paul’s students, is the wife of the Marching Wolves’ band director, Andrew Moran. Her family still lives in Ukraine. And recently, United Nations helicopters landed in the backyard of her family’s home.
“My family lives in Genichesk, Kherson State. That is 20 minutes away from the new border. They constantly hear the helicopters and see the military and military vehicles,” Obolenska said.
Obolenska notes that while things have calmed a bit, tension is still high.
“When the conflict started, everyone was scared; they were planning the ways to evacuate the city. However, because the conflict has been going on for such a long time, they got used to seeing all of that military ‘action.’ People still have to go to work; the businesses are open; daycare and schools are still operating. People try to live normal life and build up a strong supportive community and hope for the best,” Obolenska said.
Why exactly is the conflict happening in the first place? Why is Russia so scared of losing Ukraine? According to Forbes, part of the reason is because of natural gas. Russia owns most of the natural gas in Europe and provides this gas to other countries. They also own the pipelines that transport that natural gas. Many of these run through Ukraine. If Ukraine breaks away from Russia, these pipelines will no longer be owned by Russia.
Obolenska also attributes the conflict with Russia to general unrest.
“People are simply tired of waiting and listening to the government; giving them their vote, paying taxes to someone who does not represent the interest of Ukrainians but simply serves the Russian government, and pleases them. People wanted a change, and unfortunately, lots of young men had to die at a very young age to give other people hope for the better future and life,” Obolenska said.
Recently a section of Ukraine known as Crimea, or the Crimean Penninsula, was annexed by Russia. According to Obolenska, this caused quite an uproar with the Ukrainians. Many knew that this would happen simply because soldiers with machine guns stood directly next to voters as they cast their ballots. However, when the results came out, a small discrepancy occurred.
“The referendum was not done legally. They had a 123% turnout to vote. How possible is that?” Obolenska said.
Towards the beginning of the conflict, President Barack Obama issued a direct statement to Putin to stay out of Ukraine. If Putin did not, Obama said there would be consequences, though he did not specify what those consequences would be, as reported by Politico.
According to Obolenska, the Russians did indeed use force, but not through official channels.
“The victims of the ‘Maidan’ shooting were killed by Russian secret service and snipers,” Obolenska claims.
Since this, President Obama seems to have decided to stay quiet.
Though worried about what will happen to her family, Obolenska simply wants peace.
“I am not against Russia as the nation. I have numerous relatives and friends living there. Putin says that he wanted to protect us from the violence. I am against Russia invading my country and bringing unrest to my people. However, there was no violence until he invaded Ukraine. I do not know what he is really trying to do next, but the whole world is against him. I hope he will find a way to gracefully exit the conflict. Different politicians will never agree on the same subject, but it is okay, as long as the common people would not suffer from their decisions. Unfortunately, most political decisions are not made to benefit the common hard-working families,” Obolenska said.
At this time, Obolenska is trying to help her brother immigrate to the U.S., like she has, to get him out of danger. However, she says that her parents will not be able to leave the country and anxiously await what might come next.