Ukraine-On February 24, Russian troops invaded Ukraine after weeks of tension at the border. A month later, Vladimir Putin’s army is struggling to move forward, but is getting closer and closer to the capital, Kyiv, where bombs have begun to be dropped.
Opposition MP Lesia Vasylenko decided to stay in the capital, as did President Volodymyr Zelensky, while 3.6 million Ukrainians fled the country. The head of state, who has fought since the election, is now recognized as the man of the job.
From the suburbs of the Ukrainian capital, she has her new daily life Huffington Post.
How about a month after the invasion of Russia?
When the war is over, we have time to evaluate how we are doing. So far, I’m not thinking about it.today (Interview was conducted on Tuesday, March 22. Editor’s Note)It was the first time I woke up in the morning without this sense of urgency. I went to the city garden where I was staying, the weather was nice, I tried to meditate a bit as usual. It’s the first time I’ve thought about it and took the time to do it.
I sat down on the grass outdoors … and two minutes later, the sirens started to ring. Meditation didn’t last long! But we adapt. My “inner self” has become accustomed to this situation and is no longer panicking or nervous. However, I was disappointed that I couldn’t finish the meditation.
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Emotions are mixed. The first was fear, anger, and survival at all costs. Now we are more relaxed and resume our daily little tics, such as drinking coffee or going for a walk. Life is back.
Where are you now?
I am in a small town tens of kilometers away from Kyiv. I’m not in the capital yet. I returned from a week-long diplomatic mission on Monday. I was in Strasbourg and London but couldn’t go to Kyiv. The road is not as fast as usual and there is a curfew. (Editor’s note from March 21st (Monday) to March 23rd (Wednesday))..
I was told that Kyiv has changed, Russian troops have begun to attack the city, there are more explosions. I also know that a few cafes have been reopened and are in operation, so I think I’ll be back to normal life. Anyway, it is impossible for people to always live in complete stress.
I remember the books I read about World War II, especially Anne’s Diary. She explained the war, the threat to the Jews, and at the same time she explained her normal time. It’s an idea that every teenage girl can have. The same is true here. We understand and adapt that this is our new reality. I’m probably going to reopen cafes and restaurants in a new format, but we have to work. War must not only be physical, it must exist economically. If the economy goes down, it will be a big problem.
Why did you decide to stay?
Kyiv is my hometown. I have lived in the same building since I was born and had to have a housewarming party on March 1st. Instead, I drove to the border to keep the kids safe and left them behind …
But I feel safe in Kyiv, I feel good there, it’s my home. I was very happy when I returned to Ukraine after the diplomatic mission. When I crossed the border, I was calm with a smile. I can’t explain it, these are powerful energies that overwhelm me and give me the power to keep everything I do.
I am also convinced of Ukrainian freedom. Nothing changes even if you do nothing or stay still. You have to move for something good to happen. That is why we are confident that we will overcome this invasion of Russia. Revive independent free Ukraine. We are a great team and I am involved, but I can’t do anything else.
You were talking about your child, you are three. where are they?
As I said, they left the country on March 1st. I knew this invasion would continue … and that was the most difficult decision I had to make during this war. Even before the war began, some colleagues told me: “You have three children, send them back.” But I didn’t expect the situation to get worse at the time.
On the day of the invasion, February 24, my oldest two were with my grandparents and my third baby was with me. I couldn’t leave her.
After spending the night on the ground, sleeping under the stairs, I resigned. Children and war do not go together. I don’t want Vladimir Putin to steal my childhood. “Lesia Vasylenko, Ukrainian opposition lawmaker.
At first, a military colleague reassured me and said my children were safe with my parents. However, when climbing, there were sirens everywhere. After carrying around in the basement for a few nights and sleeping under the stairs, I resigned. Children and war do not go together, they should not live in these conditions. I don’t want Vladimir Putin to steal my childhood. So I sent it to my sister who lives overseas.
As a politician, how was your daily life after February 24th?
When you are a member, you stay that way. We always have meetings in parliament. Above all, because we are Ukrainians, like everyone else, we look for groceries to carry out evacuation missions and send to occupied and besieged cities.
It’s very basic. I have a car, so I buy food and bring it directly to my family. If you need clothes or medicine, collect them and bring them with you. It also organizes humanitarian aid for children and families left in Kyiv. I help raise money and bring various actors into contact with foreigners who want to help us.
My phone has become my main weapon, I’m always on the phone. I also write letters and press releases to gain support from overseas.
Volodymyr Zelensky has been a “hero” since the Russian attack began. What image do opposition members have about him?
Earlier, I admitted that I was skeptical and criticized him a lot. He wasn’t a politician, he had never been to politics. For me, there was no logic for him to be the head of state.
I completely changed my mind. There will be no more president in Ukraine. We are fortunate to have him. He gives us inspiration, strength and energy so people can follow him. And he fought the Russian invasion and stayed there to protect the country.
Ukraine cannot have a better president than Volodymyr Zelensky. As long as he keeps our values, I will support him. “Lesia Vasylenko, Ukrainian opposition lawmaker.
There is always information about negotiations with Russia, diplomatic resolution of disputes, and the possibility of discussions with Moscow. Earlier, I didn’t expect him to be able to do that, and I was afraid that Zelensky would give in. Now, if he participates in the negotiations, I’m sure he knows how to win and protect our values. He defends what we need: the departure of the Russians from our territory, letting them choose our own life and our future, leaving us in peace. ..
As long as he supports this, I support Zelensky. He was able to unify the country, but with a few mistakes, my support is gone.
What kind of mistake step?
I refuse to admit that the Occupied Territories, the Ukrainian Demilitarized Zone, NATO and the European Union are banned. This violates our right to freely choose our path and deceives the basic principles of sovereign states.
Besides, it doesn’t make sense. We fight, lose lives, lose cities … the only negotiations we can make are the departure date of the Russian army, the reconstruction of the border, and the amount of compensation that must be paid to Russia.
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