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Ukrainian Married To M'sian Shares What It's Like In Her Hometown During Russian Invasion

According to the woman, the invasion has changed how some of her fellow Ukrainians, who always viewed Putin's Russia as "not bad" and blamed internal conflicts, to now being clear in their stand: "Russia is not our friend."

Cover image via Provided to SAYS & Umit Bektas/Reuters

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Russia's invasion of Ukraine has begun

In the hours since the first Russian missile struck, more than 400 casualties have been reported.

The full-scale military operation is seeing several cities, including Kyiv in north-central Ukraine, under heavy attack. The Russian military has also taken control of the Chernobyl power plant.

In this Reuters photo below, a woman is seen walking around the wreckage of an unidentified aircraft that crashed into a house in a residential area of the capital city yesterday, 24 February.

Russia has also attacked the western regions of Ukraine.

Ivano-Frankivsk, a city located in Western Ukraine, had its airport, fuel, and lubricants depots destroyed by the Russian missile systems. The city, formerly Stanisławów, is almost 600km away from Kyiv.

With the city airport bombed, the people of Ivano-Frankivsk are being evacuated to bomb shelters.

However, some are staying put in their apartments even as sirens go off every now and then.

In this photo taken yesterday by a resident and shared with this SAYS writer, the Ivano-Frankivsk airport is seen bombed by a Russian rocket. The resident is one of those still staying in their apartments.

Smoke billows from the Ivano-Frankivsk airport in Western Ukraine on Thursday, 24 February.

Image via Provided to SAYS

SAYS reached out to Marta Kondryn, an entrepreneur in Ivano-Frankivsk, who spoke with us to share more about the situation there

Marta shared that the bombing of their city airport was completely unexpected, as it's in Western Ukraine.

According to her, with the bombing, it feels like it's not safe anywhere in Ukraine right now.

Fortunately, there has been no further escalation in Ivano-Frankivsk as of this writing.

Marta, who described the Russian invasion of Ukraine as "surreal", said the bombing of their city airport as more of a "provocation" in order to scare the residents.

"They bombed to scare people to make them run away, to create panic. But nothing has happened after that. Basically, the Russians just sent a small rocket here," she shared with us during a half an hour video call from her apartment, where she is staying with her parents and 88-year-old grandmother.

While the situation in the city remains "stable" for now, it is full of military, Marta said.

"People are staying home. We are not allowed to work from offices, so we are working from home. Honestly, we are just observing the news because the biggest fight right now is happening in Kyiv. And we know that Kyiv cannot fall because it will be pretty bad for all of us if that were to happen."

Marta, who is married to a Malaysian, shared that while the invasion has obviously made people fearful — a powerful emotion that can paralyse many — they still have faith and take pride in their military forces.

Ukraine's Defence Ministry has said that over 1,000 Russian servicemen have been killed so far.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that there has been an exodus of frightened people on Friday amidst the fighting in eastern Ukraine intensifying and the capital city under siege.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, however, has reportedly posted a video from central Kyiv, surrounded by several top officials, to show that the country's leadership has not fled the capital.

On people calling it the beginning of World War III, Marta shared that while she isn't a political observer, the consequences of this invasion are going to be extremely difficult for everyone, especially in Europe

"I don't know if I can call it World War III, but yeah, Ukraine won't be the only country that will be affected," she said, adding that during a conversation with her grandmother, she told her how when she was born it was the start of the World War II, and now almost at the end of her life, she feels it has come full circle.

"It's just unbelievable how this has turned out because now everyone is calling it the beginning of World War III."

Marta hopes that the resistance by the Ukrainian military will turn fruitful as even though it's only been two days since the invasion, they are told by the authorities that it's going to get more difficult.

When asked about what's next for her family given the situation there, Marta shared that for now, they are staying in their apartment, but if the situation deteriorates, they will move into a bomb shelter

Many of her neighbours are already there, and everything has been prepared for any emergencies.

The bomb shelter, she said, has been there since World War II.

"We have food supplies, water, etc. So moment the sirens in my neighbourhood go off or an attack comes, we will go there, too," she said, adding that the bomb shelter has enough supplies to last a month.

According to Marta, the residents don't think their city will be under siege for a long time.

"It's either we lose or we win. So I really think whatever is going to happen will happen quickly."

The World War II bomb shelter in Marta's neighbourhood.

Image via Provided to SAYS

Marta also shared a video of the bomb shelter with SAYS

The invasion, Marta shared, has also changed how some Ukrainians, who always viewed Putin's Russia as "not bad" and blamed internal conflicts, to now being clear in their stand: Russia is our enemy

"Our history is huge. Ukrainians and Russians have shared connections like families and friends. These two countries have always been intertwined. But I can assure you that right now, the level of patriotism among my people is massive and they are very clear about who is the enemy," she told us during the call.

This attack has proved to my people that the Russians are not our friends. So we have to break free from this.

"We are a peaceful and democratic country. We don't want a dictator like Putin. We know what our country is all about. It's very different from Russia. Even though we speak Russian. We look alike. We have a common history, but we are very, very different as a country. How we run things and what we stand for."

Describing Putin as an adamant child, who wants to indulge imperial nostalgia and rewrite history, Marta believes that his efforts now mean that the Ukrainian nationalism will only grow stronger in the long run

According to her, while she's not a visionary, she feels that it's going bring about a change for the country of Russia for the better, given how there have been mass protests by Russians against Putin's actions.

"We know he has this imperialist dream to restore the Soviet Union, but it will never happen. Also, with this invasion, the wound that we were trying to patch all these years, it's all exploded now," she said.

"What we are going through now is a healing process that I think is a very tremendous moment for Ukraine to really define and change history for us," Marta shared with hope in her voice.

Light traffic is seen in one of the streets in Ivano-Frankivsk as smoke raises from the explosion.

Image via Provided to SAYS

Lastly, when asked what can people in Malaysia and elsewhere do to support Ukraine, Marta shared that donations can greatly help

According to Marta, the National Bank of Ukraine has opened a special account to raise funds for the Ukrainian Army. Anyone from any country can donate, with it being fully verified and secured.

"It will be used for the right purposes. The account is multi-currency. It is open for transfers of funds from international partners and donors, any person from around the world," she shared with us.

For donations in USD:
SWIFT Code NBU: NBUA UA UX
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, New York
SWIFT Code: CHASUS33
Account: 400807238
383 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10179, USA
Bank account: UA843000010000000047330992708

For donations in GBP:
SWIFT Code NBU: NBUA UA UX
Bank of England, London
SWIFT Code: BKENGB2L
Account: 40000982|
Threadneedle Street, London EC2R 8AH, UK
Bank account: UA843000010000000047330992708

For donations in EUR:
SWIFT Code NBU: NBUA UA UX
DEUTSCHE BUNDESBANK, Frankfurt
SWIFT Code: MARKDEFF
Account: 5040040066
IBAN DE05504000005040040066
Wilhelm-Epsteinn-Strabe 14, 60431 Frankfurt Am Main,Germany
Bank account: UA843000010000000047330992708

For donations in Ukrainian Hryvnya:
Для зарахування коштів у національній валюті:
Банк: Національний банк України
МФО 300001
Рахунок № UA843000010000000047330992708
код ЄДРПОУ 00032106
Отримувач: Національний банк України

Separately, Marta's friends in Malaysia can send donations to her Maybank account: 114254209895, Marta Kondryn, and she will transfer funds to the above mentioned Ukrainian bank and prepare reports.

"For my other friends, if you’d like to support via PayPal, use: [email protected] I will transfer funds to the above mentioned Ukrainian bank and prepare reports."

Read more from our coverage about what's happening in Ukraine: