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Ohio State Professor, Ukraine native worried as battle with Russia continues in native land

A neighbor carries a child as he helps a fleeing family across a destroyed bridge on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2. 2022.
Emilio Morenatti
A neighbor carries a child as he helps a fleeing family across a destroyed bridge on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, March 2. 2022. Russian forces have escalated their attacks on crowded cities in what Ukraine's leader called a blatant campaign of terror.

The Ukrainian community in Central Ohio is bracing for more Russian aggression in their native country. As they watch what happens they’re demanding the U.S. and the rest of the world steps up aid for Ukrainians.

“Everybody is shell-shocked and just really traumatized with each consecutive day of the violence continuing and now Russians are targeting civilians. People are just at their last possibility of survival,” said Marianna Klochko, Associate Professor of Sociology at Ohio State University, and the president of the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio.

Klochko came to the U.S. in 1998 and moved her mother here in 2014 after Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. She is worried about loved ones still in her native country.

“Our days are filled with checking with our relatives and friends and asking 'Are you alive?' which is actually a pointless question because if people are not alive then they obviously cannot respond, but there’s this degree of uncertainty that you just do not know what is happening,” said Klochko.

Klochko is skeptical diplomatic talks will be effective right now.

“Russia is killing civilians,” said Klochko. “They’re taking women and children as hostages. They’re torturing priests. I don’t think at this point any negotiations, any diplomatic solutions, are going to take place.”

Klochko said, however, the world cannot ignore the problem.

“We can’t just let him terrorize the population of the world," said Klochko.

The U.N. General Assembly voted Wednesday to demand that Russia stop its offensive in Ukraine and withdraw all troops. Nations from world powers to tiny island states condemned Moscow's actions. Wednesday's vote was 141 to 5, with 35 abstentions.

At the State of the Union address, President Biden announced that the U.S. is following Canada and the European Union in banning Russian planes from its airspace in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine. He also said the Justice Department was launching a task force to go after Russian oligarchs, whom he called “corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime.”

Klochko said the Ukrainian Cultural Association of Ohio is fundraising to provide support to various organizations sending ambulances and medical supplies to Ukraine. She adds her group will continue protesting at the Ohio Statehouse this weekend.

“What Ukraine is experiencing right now is part of the dissolution of the global order and it affects everyone, so people should really react and respond, and we should not be waiting around until someone else does something,” said Klochko.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.