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'Distressing, horrifying': KU professor from Ukraine reacts to ongoing crisis with Russia

Ukraine Tensions
Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 18:37:03-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Images of the current situation in Ukraine bring Vitaly Chernetsky to tears as he mourns with his home country.

“I just cannot stop my heart is really bleeding for them,” said Chernetsky, a University of Kansas professor in the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Literatures and Languages.

Thousands of miles away, Chernetsky is mortified by the news of airstrikes, tanks and Ukrainians fleeing for their lives.

“Very much a distressing, horrifying, situation. My first two days I was totally shell shocked,” Chernetsky said.

Now watching what is unfolding from across the world, Chernetsky is worried for loved ones in the line of fire and turmoil.

“It was hard to concentrate on work. I could not really do much but try to process, check on friends and loved ones, especially my elderly father who is in Odessa, Ukraine," Chernetsky said. “I still have so many friends who are actively in places that are being bombed.”

Chernetsky is watching as those from his home country fight to protect themselves.

“There has been a run on guns and ammunition stores so now there is a lot more guns in ordinary people's hands because they want to defend themselves,” he said.

Chernetsky says he is comforted knowing the Ukrainian people are fighting for more than just their home.

“So what Ukrainians are doing, they are at the fronts line of defending freedom, equality, democracy — all good principals this country stood for when it proclaimed it’s independence,” he said.

KSHB 41 News had a chance to sit down with Chernetsky and view ongoing coverage in real time. He described President Zelensky’s response, standing in solidarity with his people, as courageous.

“This is the courage that deserves the utmost respect and I admire and respect him greatly for being like this for being a true leader," Chernetsky said.

Now living in America, Chetnetsky is grateful for the support he’s received right here from folks across the Kansas City metro.

“The protest outside, the Kansas City skyline in Ukrainian colors, and I got a message from (Jackson County, Missouri, legislature candidate) Justice Horn that the city was going to do that. I got tears in my eyes, we really feel supported, and that’s very important that the world cares,” Chernetsky said.

However, as Americans prepare to hear from President Biden tonight during his State of the Union Address, Chernetsky said he hopes American leaders can stand in solidarity with one another as they work to help the people of Ukraine.

“Not use this as an opportunity for internal fights. This is where our country and the whole world has to be united, our entire planet is at stake,” Chernetsky said.