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Native Ukrainian living in West Michigan frustrated for her family, country

Mariia Parkhomenko - WMU student living in the U.S. from Ukraine
Posted at 4:40 PM, Feb 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-23 17:17:11-05

KALAMAZOO, Mich. — Ukrainians in West Michigan are watching from afar, worried for their families and friends as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues.

Americans are also looking at how this may impact the economy.

A Western Michigan University student said she is scared for her immediate family, who still lives in Ukraine and talks to them as often as she can.

"I feel very sad, and I feel frustrated, and I feel very sorry for my people, for my country," said Mariia Parkhomenko, a Ukraine native and WMU student.

Mariia Parkhomenko was born and raised in Ukraine, south Ukraine to be specific, not too far from Crimea.

She has been on the edge of her seat, watching what has been unfolding amidst the ongoing conflicts between her country and Russia.

"I think Russia now officially declared the war on Ukraine, because before that, they denied their presence in eastern Ukraine, but now the whole world can see that their troops are there, and they want to pursue their aggressive lens, so now people can see the truth, the whole world," said Parkhomenko.

READ MORE: Russia flexes military for Ukraine move; West to respond

While her family lives mainly in the south, she said many people are still leaving in fear, glued to news programs to stay updated.

"Ukrainians value democracy, freedom and liberal values. We don't want to have authoritarianism or other violence in our country. We want to live peacefully," said Parkhomenko.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict Localized

Western Michigan University Professor of Political Science Dr. Jim Butterfield said we're already seeing some impact from the conflicts here in the United States.

"There’s a significant increase between 3–6% of oil prices, and to a lesser degree natural gas, which supplies Europe, as well as China and other places," said Dr. Butterfield.

Dr. Butterfield said prolonged conflict could be even worse and could potentially impact the prices of in-home heating fuel and gas prices.

He said it could also have an echoing effect on the international economy.

"We're recovering from the pandemic, but there's still a lot of... a lot of recovery that should still be in front of us that maybe slowed down with a... with a conflict, which could could reverberate throughout the global economy," said Dr. Butterfield.

As the conflicts continue, Mariia said she knows her people will continue to be brave and is hoping a resolution will soon be near.

"I think Ukrainians should fight for their country, and the most important thing that we should stay with our country. I think we should be united, and we should show the whole world our dignity, and we should not give up," said Parkhomenko.

While Mariia has only studied in the U.S. for two years, she said she is hoping to go back and work in the Ukrainian capital upon graduation.

READ MORE: White House announces round of sanctions on Russia after it calls moves on Ukraine an invasion

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