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IU student, professor react to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed has lived in Bloomington since 2017. She’s a Ph.D. candidate in Indiana University’s Department of Slavic and Eastern European Languages.

Her mother and brother live in the Ukraine, about 200 miles outside the capital city of Kiev.

“I do feel very helpless because I don’t know how I can help my family and it causes a lot of stress and anxiety. My brother woke up to the explosions,” Shplylova-Saeed said.

She says Ukrainians have been living in fear of Russia ever since Russia President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of the Crimea region of Ukraine in 2014. “Sanctions we imposed back in 2014, were they effective? Did they stop Mr. Putin?”

Shpylova-Saeed is hoping U.S. President Joe Biden will impose tougher sanctions on Russia, including kicking them out of the world banking system.

“This is about the strategic repositioning of Russia,” said Laszlo Borhi, an associate professor at the Hamilton-Lugar School of Global and International Studies in Bloomington. “Putin wants to get closer to Europe. He doesn’t want to be on the periphery of European politics, and he wants to restore Russia’s strategic influence.”

Borhi said Russia’s basis for annexing Ukraine is that it was once a part of the old Soviet Union.

Shpylova-Saeed says she does not know what her family will do, especially since her brother has COVID-19, making it hard for him to travel outside his home.

“There is a lot of fear. They go to bed and they don’t know what they will wake up to, and they don’t know what to expect tomorrow and in the morning,” she said.

A peaceful rally in support of Ukraine will be from 1-2 p.m. at the Sample Gates on IU Bloomington campus.