‘I See More Unity Than Panic’: Young Ukrainians on Russian Invasion Fears

Young people in Ukraine don't know what to believe about reported Russian troop withdrawals – but they aren't going anywhere.

As Russia looms at Ukraine’s borders, the future remains unclear. In light of the ongoing threat, dozens of countries have told their citizens to leave Ukraine, including the US, UK and Germany. 

We spoke to young people in Kyiv who are living under threat of invasion. 

Veronika Dukelska, 30, partnership manager in a fashion start-up

PHOTO: Veronika Dukelsko

The atmosphere in Ukraine has intensified. Most of my friends are talking about the threat, but nobody actually believes it will escalate. 

I am not planning on leaving and my family is planning to stay as well because there is no place like home. You will be a guest everywhere you go, even if we say that we all are citizens of  Earth, you still have to have your corner where your family, friends, job and life is. I don’t have any intentions of changing it in the near future and definitely not because of a threat. If I decide to move somewhere it would solely be my decision which comes from curiosity and self-development. I have not made any preparations, but I do have a car…


It’s not only hard [to know what to believe], but the information is very misleading and sometimes the anxious thoughts visit even me. I believe Russia’s position currently is a threat to Ukraine, however, it can’t always be. Times change and the rulers are not indefinite. So we just have to hope for the best future for all of us.

Alexander Filonenko, 37, musician and producer 

PHOTO: Alexander Filonenko

Life here in Kyiv is like normal now. We've heard a lot about an invasion threat from the east recently, but mostly from headlines and social media. We assume that the situation is pretty intense, but we’ve already seen a lot and the war in the east of Ukraine has been going on for eight long years. We’ve lost thousands of people during that time. We survived 2014, when the situation was way more dangerous and the Russian invasion actually happened. As a result, I lost my city of birth as half of my family have moved from Donetsk to Kyiv. We try to keep calm, stay cool, but we're ready for everything.

I don’t think there’s gonna be total war with airforce bombings, rocket strikes and all that. No one needs that nowadays. Russians are just trying to

keep us aware, frightened, panicking so that investors won’t come, our economy fails and we’re easier to control. But we’re trying to resist the way we can, keeping our heads cool. 

I have prepared in some way. I try to keep my car's gas tank full, I’ve bought some stuff like a lighter, an army knife and a thermal coat. But that’s what a modern man needs to have for many reasons. 


It’s really kinda hard to know what to trust because global politics is a huge game and you never know the real motivation and the real state of things. The media is always ruled by someone. We’ll see and hope for the best.

Vlad Tislenko, 32, Kyiv, venture capitalist

PHOTO: Vlad Tislenko

Mostly, people are doing their day-to-day jobs. I think about the war scenario but try not to focus on it too much. Some people are scared, but I see more unity than panic. 

I’m planning to stay here no matter what. My family is not planning to leave. I, personally, think the escalation of war scenario has a 5 percent probability. 

In terms of preparations, I am trying to keep high productivity in my business and try to be sure my community is motivated for the coming changes. I believe, in the long term, the positive side of the situation will be higher than the negative. 

It looks like there is no absolute truth in this situation. Most people understand that we are just a small country in a big political game. I hope that this game will not force me to protect my family.


war, russia, Kyiv, ukraine invasion, worldnews, world conflict, Kriv

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