Students Share Reactions to The Russia-Ukraine War

Since Russia first invaded Ukraine on February 24, thousands of people—both Russian and Ukrainian—have died. Many Ukrainian homes, cities, and countrysides have been bombed and destroyed. According to National Public Radio (NPR), nearly 3.5 million refugees have fled Ukraine. The Russian government continues to limit outside contact and punish those who protest the war. Various international companies have suspended their businesses in Russia, including Starbucks and Coca-Cola. Below, students provide their reactions to the Russia-Ukraine war:


Yuliya Solyanyk ’23

I called my parents at 5 a.m. [Eastern European Time]; they were sleeping at that time, and I remember when I saw my dad, he was like, what happened? I told him war started, and they woke up and started checking the news and hearing all of this information about bombardings and about Russian troops [entering] the country. My town is in the westernmost region of Ukraine, so fortunately it didn’t experience any bombardments and stuff—it mostly serves as a place for migrants… My friends text me pretty much every time they hear a siren in my region, sometimes everyday, sometimes in the middle of the night … I encourage people to help, it seems like we are thousands of miles away from Ukraine, and it doesn’t influence our lives in particular, but we never know what will happen next, and we still need to help the people, those innocent people who are suffering now. 


Kira Stepanova ’25

My general reactions were shock and devastation… seeing all the news and all the cities being bombarded, it’s just heartbreaking. It was a Thursday morning—I was having a Chem lab first period that day, but instead of my usual morning routine, I cried for like an hour because of the amount of news I got on my phone and the amount of missed phone calls I saw from my family. My heart aches for all the Ukrainians out there. My whole family is really against it and is currently trying to immigrate from Russia because living under a dictatorship is not our value. The sanctions in Russia [also are affecting access to] quality medecine, and just overall some products are no longer available in shops, like sugar or paper or sanitary products. I am really glad that since I’m in America, I can actually speak to people about it because if you’re in Russia and you want to protest, you can’t really because you’re going to get detained. You’re going to get put into jail. They’re going to kick you out from your job, your school, your university. You just can’t do anything. 


Mathilda Knoblauch ’22

Right now the only thing that I talk about when I talk with my friends and family back home [in Germany] is the war and [product] prices going up. A lot of people can’t afford healthy vegetables and sometimes gas. I was really shocked because [the war] is so close [to my home], but I also feel bad about the fact that I’m more shocked about this war than I’ve been about previous wars, like the one in Syria, because everything that [was] going on outside of Europe has never affected me that much. I just think it’s important that there’s awareness here as well, especially because it’s a very sensitive topic, [I think we should] put our humanity first before talking about politics, because it affects so many people in their hearts.


Viktoria Georgieva ’23

I wasn’t surprised when Russia declared war because it was known that this tension between Ukraine and Russia existed. I’m from Bulgaria, and the biggest thing that affected me and my family was that my sister had to move towns because there are many American troops sending more supplies to cities in Bulgaria, so she wanted to move just in case something happens. In terms of my life on campus, my roommate is Ukrainian, and when she goes to a protest in Boston, I join her… I also take Russian classes and knowing Russian and other foreign languages kind of gives me access to more resources and points of view because I have noticed news from different countries looks different. I feel like just because we live here in this safe space in the bubble of Andover, it’s really difficult to open up your eyes to the conflicts that are happening outside and to get this interest in a conflict that looks like it’s happening so far away. 


Ani Bayramyan ’24

It was heartbreaking, and there was also anger. I’m from Armenia, where we had war as well in 2020, so I feel like I’ve already gone through a similar situation. But I have Ukrainian citizenship as well, and I visit there a lot, so Ukraine has a special place in my heart. I was in Kyiv in 2021, and it’s a beautiful city with a lot of beautiful people, and now you can see a lot of posts of how they’re destroying all these buildings and killing innocent people. It’s good to see that it got a lot of Western media coverage, but there is also a double standard about how Western media covered different conflicts and wars in the Middle East, and how they’re covering Ukraine’s war. I feel like all conflicts should get equal media coverage, and people should educate themselves about all these kinds of issues and try to support the people who have been affected.


Nicholas Donnellan ’23

I think the biggest thing was the scale to which it happened, especially because Putin has never really made those sorts of advances in the past [in Ukraine] on a large scale. The definition of a war crime is very specific, but I do think when you start bombing hospitals, civilian areas, and residential zones, there’s definitely a disrespect for human rights and liberty in that, as well as the killing of innocent people. I’m not tied to Ukraine or Russia by ancestry, but I do think, as someone who lives in a democratic society, it’s sad to see a democratic society fall to an autocracy like that. And obviously, Ukraine wasn’t a perfect democracy, but they still supported human rights, and they were working in a direction that was beneficial.