Russia-Ukraine Crisis

Ukrainians Stunned by Russia's Wide-Ranging Assault

Oleksandr Makhanets, who has been in touch with family in Sudbury, Massachusetts, was shocked when explosions rocked Ukraine, including in his hometown of Lviv

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The Ukrainian community in Massachusetts has rallied in outcry against Russia's invasion.

Oleksandr Makhanets has family ties in Massachusetts. He was stunned when he realized Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an attack across major cities in Ukraine, including his hometown of Lviv.

"It's very unexpected, because nobody believed that it would be so much attacks," said Makhanets.

The day Makhanets had been dreading arrived Thursday morning, with bombs landing closer to home than he ever expected.

"I just woke up because of the siren in the morning. So I just thought, 'Oh, something is happening,'" he said.

A full-scale invasion at the orders of Putin, with attacks from all fronts.

"It was very … like the movies. It's hard to explain," said Makhanets.

The 29-year-old historian had just written to his aunt Tania Vitvitsky in Sudbury a day earlier, saying, "We don't have any other option but to being optimistic, united, and ready."

Makhanets said he is ready to help anyway he can, volunteering with humanitarian efforts, as thousands flock to banks, stores and gas stations and flee from frontlines in eastern Ukraine.

"It's hard," said Malden resident Vsevolod Petriv. "I don't think it has sunk in yet."

Petriv has family in the eastern part of the country. He calls on the West to do more as he worries that sanctions against Putin won't be enough.

"My big question is: what do they consider a win? And if they consider a win that Putin stops at the existing NATO line, then that's 43 million people they're sacrificing," argued Petriv.

Oleh Kotsyuba at Harvard University's Ukrainian Institute wants to see the West end its dependency on Russian energy and shift the focus of the crisis from Ukraine to Russia.

"Russia has attacked Western democracies more broadly. We need to solve the Russia question, not the Ukraine question," Kotsyuba said.

With Russia waging another war on Ukraine, people like Makhanets are having to rethink their outlooks on life, yet again.

"I think it's very important now to realize that evil is real," he said. "When I was younger, I thought evil was some kind of fiction. The last year forced me to change my mind."

President Joe Biden said at a press conference Thursday he believes sanctions will affect Putin in the long term, but Ukrainians worry that by then, it may be too late to stop him.

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