The Russian military left his hometown of Kharkiv; Sweden and Finland applied to join NATO; and Thursday was international Vyshyvanka Day.
University of Missouri Ukrainian student Vlad Sazhen wore a vyshyvanka, a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt, on Thursday to celebrate.
He spoke in Galena Residence Hall at MU.
The day is a big holiday in Ukraine and he said he’s sure everyone there was wearing them.
“This is one of my favorite holidays” because everyone is colorfully dressed, Sazhen said.
Kharviv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and just 25 miles from the Russian border, has been bombed and shelled since the first day of the invasion. Now the Russian military is retreating, Sazhen said.
More:‘How can I leave this place?’ MU Ukrainian student’s girlfriend pleads during shelling
Sazhen said Ukrainian soldiers are approaching the Russian border. “Knowing how heroic our soldiers are, they will be on the border very soon,” Sazhen said.
He said Russia will try to keep Ukrainian forces far enough from the border to prevent Ukrainian artillery from reaching into Russia.
Sazhen’s parents and sister and his girlfriend, Alina, and her family left Kharkiv for safer Poltava early in the Russian invasion.
Alina’s parents took advantage of the lull in fighting to make a quick trip back to Kharkiv while Alina stayed in Poltava, Sazhen said.
They sent a video from Kharkiv to Sazhen, showing their apartment building damaged by a rocket. Their apartment sustained some damage, including a broken window next to the desk where Alina studied.
Volunteers are working to clean up and repair the damage in Kharkiv, he said.
“Ukrainian volunteers are so amazing,” he said.
His family and Alina’s family both are beginning to discuss a return to Kharkiv, but they don’t want to return prematurely, he said.
They may wait another month, he said.
Previously:University of Missouri Ukrainian students plan reunions with loved ones amid war with Russia
Sazhen and Alina have received three-year, non-resident tuition scholarships, as MU international student and scholar services works to bring Alina to MU and keep Sazhen here as full-time, degree-seeking students. Sazhen is currently an exchange student, but that has been extended, allowing him to remain.
They each would still need $30,094 per year to attend MU, and officials are working to help raise the funds. People who are interested in donating may email David Currey, director of international student and scholar services, at email@example.com.
Although Vladimir Putin used the potential of Ukraine joining NATO as one of his pretexts for the invasion, the attack has resulted in Sweden and Finland officially applying to become members of the multinational military alliance.
“I think that’s amazing,” Sazhen said, adding the two countries are disregarding the Russian threats.
Stephen Quackenbush, an MU associate professor, talked about Putin’s plan backfiring at the start of the invasion.
Putin wants a weak NATO, but the invasion has created the opposite result, he said.
“He wants a divided West,” Quackenbush said of Putin. “He’s done a remarkable job of unifying NATO.”
A Russian soldier this week pleaded guilty to a war crime.
“In the Suma region in late February, this 62-year-old man was walking with his bicycle, talking on his telephone. This guy shot him dead,” Sazhen said.
The soldier said he was afraid the man would give away their position, but that doesn’t matter, Sazhen said.
“Killing a civilian is a war crime,” he said.
Ukrainian soldiers defending a steel plant in Mariupol for weeks are now in the hands of Russians. The International Red Cross has registered them as prisoners of war, though the Russian government has labeled them as terrorists.
“Everyone in Ukraine hopes they come back safe,” Sazhen said.
Roger McKinney is the education reporter for the Tribune. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-815-1719. He’s on Twitter at @rmckinney9.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .