WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - Nataliya Semchynska Uhl tapped people on the shoulder Tuesday morning inside Purdue Memorial Union.
“Do you know what’s going on in Ukraine?” she asked passers-by as she directed them to a nearby poster.
Semchynska Uhl, a visiting scholar in linguistics, and other members of the Purdue University Ukrainian Student Society were trying to raise awareness about the tense international situation in Ukraine and denounce Russian military occupation there. As the morning progressed, the signatures built up under a letter written to U.S. congressmen.
“We are very disturbed by the recent events in Ukraine,” Semchunska Uhl told the Journal & Courier (https://on.jconline.com/1gQUiXS ). “My son, his wife and my little grandchild, they are still in Ukraine. That’s why I think by raising this awareness … I think I may help save lives in Ukraine and possibly, maybe, in the whole world.”
The letters and signatures the Purdue group gathers will eventually be sent to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Semchynska Uhl said, in hopes that it will use “political power to protect the territorial integrity of Ukraine, Ukraine’s right to self-determination and to make the aggressor roll back.”
“We hope they will consider these signatures,” she said. “People here do not want war.”
Roman Pogranichniy, an associate professor of virology at Purdue, said it is important for students to get the word out about the turmoil in Ukraine.
“There’s lots of information that people are not aware of, or they are confused,” Pogranichniy said. “They don’t know about what’s going on in the Ukraine. It’s important we tell the truth about invasion from Russia. It’s good for students to be united about this and tell the truth to other students.”
The crisis has been emotionally draining, Ukrainian students and researchers say.
“I cannot do research,” said Alex Misiats, a postdoctoral researcher in mathematics. “I cannot concentrate. I’m very concerned on what’s going on there right now. Pretty much all my family is there. They’re scared of what’s going on.”
Misiats said the violence that erupted after protests in Kiev last month disturbed him.
“I could not sleep all night,” he said. “I wish I was back there when things were developing, even though I realize I could have been one of those who were killed.”
Misiats said he believes Russia has already essentially declared war on Ukraine, taking into account the 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which guarantees the independence and sovereignty of Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.
The agreement is among Ukraine, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom. President Barack Obama told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday that Russia had violated international law, including the 1994 treaty.
“What’s happening is a violation of international law, and the U.S. is directly involved in that,” Misiats said.
“The whole thing we can do right now is to make this document as widely known as possible so this will raise awareness. I’ve heard people say we don’t want another Iraq. But that’s a different story. It’s not Iraq. It’s not Syria. It’s not Libya.”
Pogranichniy said he remains in frequent phone contact with his Ukrainian relatives.
“So far it’s been peaceful, but everyone’s on standby,” Pogranichniy said. “Scary stuff. War is not good for people or for peace. It means blood and it means death.
“They are worried about the situation. They don’t want war, but if there’s no other choice, what else can you do?”
Information from: Journal and Courier, https://www.jconline.com
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