MILWAUKEE – Taras Ferencevych grew up as the son of Ukrainian immigrants in the United States. He says he’s watched Russian aggression towards Ukraine get worse and worse over the past few decades.
“Prior to having children, I think I would have been more active in the revolution in 2014,” Taras said.
But now he has two children, which makes explaining Russian aggression and a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine much more difficult.
“It leads to some interesting conversations,” he said. “Both of my kids have been to Ukraine several times. In fact, the last time they were there was when the airliner was shot down.”
“We were there on vacation. It was very surreal. We were out in the western part of Ukraine and friends of ours were going off volunteering to fight against Russian aggression in the east.”
“It kind of hit home that we were on a family vacation and in the mean time, every town or village we visited in, people were collecting donations for volunteers.”
He says the situation in Ukraine has gotten better since Russia invaded and annexed Crimea, but that doesn’t mean people living there are relaxed.
Taras says the buildup of 100,000 Russian troops along the Ukrainian border has people living in the Eastern European country “being pragmatic” in their day to day lives.
“They’re not panicking, but they are putting things in place,” Taras said. “Like, ‘okay, where is the nearest place to go in case bombs start falling? Maybe I should go find that out.'”
Taras thinks misinformation is one tool that the Russian government is using to build support for an invasion of Ukraine.
“I think a lot of the misinformation is directed not necessarily at Ukrainians but at people in Russia or people outside of Ukraine and Russia as justification for perhaps going in there,” he said.
“False narratives about the government in Ukraine or how Russian nationals are somehow being targeted in Ukraine…”
Regardless of what happens, Taras says the people of Ukraine are united in standing against Russian aggression.
“People are against the politics of the Kremlin,” he said.
“The constant undermining, the imperialism, the wanting to return to the days of the Soviet Union. That’s what Ukrainians are against. They’re not against Russians.”
You can listen to the entire interview with Taras in the player at the top of the page.