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SU student from Ukraine watches Russian invasion from half a world away

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Nataliya Kolesova
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Ukrainian native Nataliya Kolesova is pursuing a PhD at Syracuse University

Many central New Yorkers have ties to Ukraine that run deep. One woman, who is closely watching the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has a very personal stake in the conflict.

Nataliya Kolesova is a doctoral student at Syracuse University, and a native of Rivna, an area in western Ukraine.

“My heart is tearing apart because my mom and my daughter are there,” Kolesova said. “They don’t have a car, the flights are cancelled. People who have cars, some of them are leaving the country."

After news of the invasion, she was able to talk by phone to her daughter, who was in line trying to give blood to help those injured in the fighting.

“She cannot take a weapon, and she cannot fight, but she does this way,” she said. “My mom is too old to go to the battlefield, it’s horrible and I cannot protect them."

Kolesova was not surprised when word of the invasion came, noting that Ukraine has been at war since the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea in 2014. But she was hoping that common sense would win out in the end. That didn’t happen, and she believes international help is vital.

“Ukrainian people are very resilient, they are very organized. They try to stand against and oppose this invasion,” she said. “But without international help, we won’t be able to do it."

For her part, Kolesova, who was an athlete in the Paralympics, wants to make people all over the world understand what’s going on.

“I'm trying to deliver messages of awareness and to ask them to join and unite forces and join Ukraine in our opposition to the aggressor and our struggle in this war, because peaceful people are dying,” she said.