Local Ukrainian-Americans scared for loved ones amid Russian invasion

Feb 22, 2022, 6:20 PM | Updated: Feb 24, 2022, 6:25 am
A TV screen in the Press Briefing Room of the White House airs Russian President Vladimir Putin's live remarks from the Kremlin. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Ukraine may be more than 5,000 miles away from Seattle, but for the 100,000 Ukrainian-Americans in Washington state, the conflict hits close to home.

Those with relatives and friends still in Ukraine watched with horror as Russian President Vladimir Putin began moving troops into across the border.

“Most of us, whether we were born in Ukraine or born in the United States, have family in Ukraine,” said Lidia Mykytyn, a Seattle woman of Ukrainian heritage who volunteers with the Ukrainian Association of Washington. “And the news from the last two days has been devastating, disheartening.”

Congressman Adam Smith: U.S. won’t go to war with Russia over Ukraine

Mykytyn has relatives and friends in Ukraine, some living very close to the conflicted region. Before the last couple of days, she said they were largely going about their lives normally because they have been living with the Russian threat ever since Putin took Crimea in 2014.

“Until [Monday], everybody was living life, going to work, kids were going to school, people were going to theaters, to restaurants. … They were like, ‘We’re going to live our lives until there is a direct impact,'” Mykytyn said. “And yesterday and today is that direct impact.”

Now she is worried sick about her loved ones.

“I have messages out to them — I have not heard back,” Mykytyn said.

To the Ukrainian people, Russia moving troops into their country is equivalent to a declaration of war.

“We have just witnessed the start of the invasion, … it is definitely war,” Mykytyn said.

Mykytyn says the Ukrainian people are strong and will not take the invasion lying down. She said that the threat has unified the entire country.

“They are going to fight, they are going to defend themselves, they are going to defend their families, they are going to defend their country,” Mykytyn said.

She is worried not just about the violence, but also the economic devastation that the country is experiencing. She noted that commercial activity has ground to a halt in Ukraine, and airlines have stopped flights into the country. Mykytyn also fears that the conflict could spark a refugee crisis.

The Ukrainian-American community is asking anyone who wants to help to contact their Congress members and ask for more severe sanctions than the United States imposed when Putin invaded other territories in the past.

“Right now, our asks are those sanctions — make it quick, make it effective, make it severe. … Americans can turn to their members of Congress and say, ‘Hey, support democracy, support liberty in Ukraine, support them to survive this invasion,'” Mykytyn said.

The Ukrainian Association of Washington also plans to conduct fundraising drives for the people of Ukraine. There will be more information on this in the coming days, so keep an eye on the Ukrainian Association’s social media pages.

Follow Nicole Jennings on Twitter or email her here

Local News

Nicole Jennings

PETA storms UW over treatment of medical research monkeys on first day of classes

It was all part of a protest by PETA and the Northwest Animal Rights Network against UW's Northwest Center for Primate Research.
21 hours ago
Micki Gamez

Overgrown vegetation no match for SDOT’s eco-friendly contractors … goats!  

"They are an environmentally friendly and sustainable way to control vegetation on public land."
21 hours ago
Charlie Harger

58-year-old baseball umpire charged with sexual abuse of a minor turns himself in

Casey McNerthney with the prosecutor's office said investigators believe Wearmouth "groomed" the girl for a period of time on social media.
21 hours ago
Crime Handcuffs...
Hanna Scott

Man accused of threatening to stab Renton bartender pleads not guilty

Carlos Perez pled not guilty at an arraignment this week for reportedly threatening to stab a Renton bartender earlier this month.
21 hours ago
SUV pulled from ditch in Bothell...
Shawn Garrett, KIRO 7 News

Roads are slick! SUV pulled from ditch in Bothell

An SUV was lifted out of a ditch in Bothell on Wednesday after the light showers left the roads slippery in Western Washington.
21 hours ago
capacity magazine...
Hanna Scott

Trial date set for late 2023 over large capacity magazine ban in Washington state

A federal judge has scheduled a trial in the legal challenge to Washington State’s new ban on high-capacity magazines for late 2023.
21 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
Local Ukrainian-Americans scared for loved ones amid Russian invasion