Anastasiia Zaitseva, a UF international business student checks her phone for updates on her family's safety back home in Ukraine. (Richard Mason/WUFT News)

A UF student from Ukraine worries for her friends and family back home dealing with the Russian invasion

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Anastasiia Zaitseva, an international business student at the University of Florida is from a small town in east Ukraine. Since Russia’s invasion of her home country, she has been afraid for her friends and family back home. Zaitseva said she texts her friends in Kyiv daily.

She recalls one text that she received recently. It describes one street, where her close friend lives, that is destroyed. The street is in rubble and people have lost hands and legs after the bombings. 

“I know a person who sleeps in a parking lot because it’s a safe underground parking lot. I know people who sleep in their own bathtub covered with a closet door because they don’t have access to the subway to go when the sirens go off,” Zaitseva said.

Zaitseva, who came to the United States hoping for a better future, had a difficult childhood, raised by a single mother. When the time came to move to the United States, her grandmother decided to stay behind. Now, with the Russian invasion creating turmoil throughout cities in Ukraine, Zaitseva is sad that her grandmother, who’s now in her 80s, remains in her small apartment alone, forced to seek shelter amid bombings.

Various countries placed economic sanctions against Russia, including the United States. The sanctions were due to the overwhelming international consensus that the invasion was unprovoked.

A fourth round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian negotiators are on pause until Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s negotiator.

Meanwhile, attacks on Kyiv continued Monday. According to CNN, Russia has now launched more than 900 missiles against Ukraine since the start of the invasion.

However, Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, ana international relations professor at the University of Florida feels diplomacy could still be possible.

“Ukraine has been fighting valiantly and they know they have the support of most of the international community. They don’t have an incentive to back down to the extent to which Russia wants them to. So in this situation, both sides are kind of at an impasse, but I think this is sort of a classic circumstance in international diplomacy. So I don’t think diplomacy is dead,” Rosenberg said.

The war is also causing concern from Ukranians living in cities across the United States, including Gainesville.. According to Zip Atlas, 0.31% of the population in Gainesville, Florida are Ukranians.

Zaitseva is one of them.

On Wednesday, Russian forces bombed a Ukrainian maternity and children’s hospital. According to CNN, at least three people died in the attack. The attack came despite Russia agreeing to a 12-hour pause in hostilities to allow refugees to evacuate several towns and cities.

Despite the growing fear and emotional anguish the war has caused Zaitseva and her family, she still holds out hope that peace is a possibility.

“I don’t want people to die and peace is always the best idea for Ukraine, but at this point it’s a war for freedom,” Zaitseva said.

About Richard Mason

Richard is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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