Saturday, May 25, 2024


We read about it on social media, we watch it on the news from the comfort of our home, but we cannot begin to fathom what cohabitating with death means. “It is me frightened to death, sitting under bombing, praying for life” – these are the words that Olena Mashintsova, professor and deputy head of International Relations Office at V.N.Karazin Kharkiv National University, shared during an exclusive interview for KDP. She is currently living in Kharkiv, second largest city in Ukraine, situated in the northeast region, where bombings are quite heavy.


Author: Valmisa Novi


KDP: How is the situation in Ukraine and especially in Kharkiv?

Olena Mashintsova: I am telling my view on the Russian War.
It is not “military action” and it is not “Ukrainian crises”. It is blood and death of my people, it is tears and broken lives of thousand, and it is terror, shakings hands and heart pounds from any sound, it is a deep scare of your own wellbeing while you are in line to get some food, it is constant thoughts if the next missile is going for you. It is ruined to the ground cities and wiped from the face of Earth, towns like the town of Izum when my parents lived. I see it as a brutal invasion of sovereign state, as a war that has started early at the morning on February 24. It might be presented and camouflage with appropriate words but it is massacre of civil Ukrainians.
Now I am sitting in the basement of my apartment building for 23 days. The day starts early because I want to prolong daily light. With the first signs of darkness, the electricity is off; the window curtains are tight close, like now when I am writing. Personally, the hardest part for me was to see people leaving Kharkiv in rush, running back and forth to their car, taking only necessities. I was losing part of my soul, watching people driving away in groups of 4-5 cars. I watch them them leaving and the panic rose in me, the scare was choking. Almost all the people from my building left, one by one. My children and grandchildren (9 and 2) left the city during the first week of the war. My husband and I have stayed because of my mom. She barely walks; she will not bear the trip.
In a day, there was no food, no medicine, no job, no future! ONLY BOMBING! Somebody in Russia tells me from TV that they are fighting against genocide that Ukrainians imposed on Russian speaking people. I am Russian-speaking person, and it is I frightened to death, sitting under bombing, praying for live, not them!
My beloved Kharkiv is lying in ruins. I see it only in the social media. I am so scared to go out. It is only screaming alarms and fires, smokes and debris. I am still in shock. Right now, there are bombing, the puffs are so strong that window glass are shaking. I feel so vulnerable, helpless, and small. But …when I hear that all these is “to bring freedom to Ukraine”, “to restore the fairness”, the huge wave of anger is covering me. I want everyone to hear me: nobody can cover killings with pretty words!!!!

KDP: How has your life changed since February 24-th?

Olena Mashintsova: Frankly, I feel like I have no live. It is survival …
Morning starts with messaging to my friends, checking on them if they are alive. My aunt is not answering for 3 days. She lives in area under the heavy shelling.
Then, I am making breakfast, taking in account every piece of grocery I have in the fridge. So far, we have some storage of food supplies and money savings but who knows what is ahead of us.
In case of buying medicine or groceries, I have to give 2-3 hours of line waiting just to get in the store. I am taking care of my mom; feeding, grooming, applying medicine.
I am chained to my phone! I am reading news on every possible site, especially local to find out what is going on in the Kharkiv. Sometimes it makes me sick like I am being poisoned. Lately, I am reading a lot of analytical documents, listening to the lectures, I want to understand WHY?
Then comes night! I cannot express enough how I am afraid of nights! It is a such deep and almost animal scare of nights! In order to stop hand shaking and teeth clenching, I am taking seductive medicine. It helps go through the night.

KDP: How are you personally experiencing this war, is your family safe?

Olena Mashintsova: How an ordinary, pretty accomplish person with his/her flourish careers, interesting job, plans for summer vacation, with habits of Sunday family gatherings may experience the war…
About safety, I may say that right now I am safe but in a minute the Russian bomb that was supposed “to destroy military targets” can hit my building and I would be crashed. There are 600 residential buildings destroyed in Kharkiv. There is no safe place in Ukraine right now!!! I saw the mushroom of vacuum bomb, got under the military plane shooting while staying in line to the pharmacy, saw the university buildings after night attacks.

KDP: Is it possible for people to leave the country? Is it possible for you to leave the country?

Olena Mashintsova: It was possible to leave Kharkiv, and it is still possible to leave the area at your own risk. There is no guarantee that you can make it.

KDP: Is there enough food to cope with in this difficult situation? Is the food supply regular?

Olena Mashintsova: My mom went through famine twice in her live time. As far as know, we always have food storage in my household; sugar, salt, grains, flour, canned meet, and pickled veggies. I used to make fun of my mom, but not anymore! The food storage helped us live through first couple of week, when the shillings were nonstop. Right now, the logistic of food supply is pretty much restored. The groceries work short days, like a couple of hours.

KDP: What is your personal view of the war?

Olena Mashintsova: I have a strong belief that there are more than enough diplomatic methods to deal with conflicts. War is not a solution in solving any conflicts/problem. War always bring more problems, more unsolved conflicts, and hates. The history of humankind is vivid example of it.

KDP: What is your personal view of Russian politics?

Olena Mashintsova: It is a very emotional question for me right now! I want to scream loud from my pain, from the pain of thousand Ukrainian women, I want all the grief to fall on the heads … of WHOM?
Yesterday, in Moscow was a huge celebration of Russian war in the stadium, a couple of days before I saw a support meeting of Serbs in Belgrade. Do I wish badly to all these people? Definitely not. All of them have their own reason do whatever they want, to support whatever they want to support. It is on their conscience. It does not matter what kind of good reasons one can provide to cover devil actions, it always will be devil actions.

KDP: How is the general morale of the Ukrainians?

Olena Mashintsova: It is very high and consolidated now. Even the people who previously was in opposition or have some doubts about governing of Ukraine and the development path Ukraine was going, now we are all together! We are winning that war no matter what!!! To keep fighting for 27 days the army that claim to be the biggest in the world – it is a victory!

KDP: Based on your perspective, how long will this war continue?

Olena Mashintsova: I think it will depends on the actions of EU, and other big political players in the world. Ukraine is the country of vital interest of Russia, not EU, not USA. And, I am afraid that Putin’s Russia is plan to wreck Ukraine just to show and to frighen the world. It is a big imperial politic!

KDP: While thanking Olena for her interview, only two words cross my mind: “Slava Ukraini!”

Të fundit