‘Shocked, scared, sick, disgusted’: Russian and Ukrainian students speak about the current situation

We hear from Glasgow students and alumni


In the early hours of Thursday morning, Russian forces launched an invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

Yesterday, The Tab reported on the news that all University of Glasgow students studying in Ukraine have now returned home. Today, we spoke to Glasgow students and alumni from both Russia and Ukraine about their experiences with the conflict.

Marjan as a student at Glasgow

‘Those first few hours it was living a nightmare’

The first person we spoke to was Marjan from Ukraine. The former Glasgow student, who lives in Edinburgh, said that he felt that he was, “Shocked, scared, sick, disgusted. Can’t sleep, can’t eat. Constant new news. Those first few hours it was living a nightmare. Explosions, reports of military crossing boarders, reports of fighting. Videos of cities burning. If this is happening now, then it feels like we have utterly failed with sanctions.” He later said that, “Russia thinks that it can get away with anything that it does in Ukraine – I think that’s the scariest part of all, as that means very little hope for civilians. I just think that at the moment the biggest fear for all Ukrainians is that waking up one morning, and reading the news and seeing that Ukraine is gone. This war needs to end. Russia needs to get out of Ukraine.”

It can often feel as if we are helpless and there is not much we can do to aid Ukraine. Marjan, however, gives us ideas for ways we can help. He says, “Actively UA, engage with all the activities, raise money for Ukrainian charities, spread confirmed information, pressure government to impose sanctions on Russia, and give maximum military support to Ukraine.”

‘When I woke up today I was absolutely confused and depressed’

Russia’s actions appear unpopular even amongst Russian citizens. “Russian Instagram is full of Ukraine support posts” said one Russian student, who wished to remain anonymous. He described how more anonymous apps like Telegram are essential when it comes to finding information about the invasion, with talk of missile strikes against Ukrainian airports and “a huge traffic jam from Kiev” circulating amongst both Russian and Ukrainian users. The opposition to the war does not end online. “Right now in Saint Petersburg and Moscow people are protesting against the war, some of them are arrested” he says. “When I woke up today I was absolutely confused and depressed”, our anonymous source continued. “Russians do not want the war, I am pretty sure that 90 per cent of young Russians support Ukraine”.

Former Glasgow student Hanna

‘I feel terrible, because the world is watching and not reacting’

Hanna, who graduated from Glasgow in 2020 and now lives in the Netherlands, said she feels that Ukraine’s future “is being ruined for nothing”. Hanna’s family live in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city, with a population of around two million. Hanna described how yesterday they “woke up to the sounds of missiles explosions” and how they went on to spend “almost the entire day in a bomb shelter — a basement in their apartment complex”. Hanna is frustrated by the lack of support Ukraine is receiving from other nations. “I feel terrible, because the world is watching and not reacting” she said. “I feel that the world is united in this war, but more support is needed from the global community” She continued. She believes that “Europe and the UK should react ASAP with real sanctions” against Russia and that “prayers, hopes and other gestures are pointless”.

‘It just breaks my heart to see that people are being killed’

We then spoke to a Russian student at Glasgow, who wishes to remain anonymous. She said, “It just breaks my heart to see that people are being killed, many of us have friends and relatives in Ukraine. It is truly terrible that it is done in the name of Russia. No citizens want war, but government did not ask any of us, they do not care about our opinion. It is also very worrying to think how much damage it will bring to the already poor state of the Russian economy for the normal citizens.”

“Ruble (Russian currency) was very weak already and it keeps crashing, prices are rising, but salaries will not get raised. I do not know when I will be able to see my family. I am from Saint-Petersburg so they are far from the frontline, but it will hit them economically a lot as well. Both of my parents work in dentistry and most of the dental materials are imported from abroad, the price for those will skyrocket, I do not know if they will lose their jobs.”

She continued, “I am also worried that my visa might be nullified. I was planning to do a PhD in Therapeutic Genetic Editing in Germany in September but I do not know if I will be able to get my visa now. I might be sent back to a country with which I do not want to associate myself anymore after these dreadful actions of the government.”

“It is also terrible to think that normal people want to see the world and learn from each other and bring cultures together, but instead of this some psychotic government decides to destroy nations and their connection. Altogether I just hate the Russian government and despise Putin. Frankly I wish he would go into war himself and get shot promptly. World would become a better place for sure.”

‘Ukraine needs all the help it can get right now’

Our final interviewee was Andriy from Ukraine, a current Glasgow student. He said, “I think it’s a terrible situation, Putin is obviously trying to recreate the USSR by taking as much land as he can. However, he has no right to do so as Ukraine has been independent for a long time now. Ukraine needs all the help it can get right now. I feel that it’s a shameful action that Russia are doing and that they should be punished for taking it further and opening fire.”

To find ways to help with the current situation, click here. 

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