MU Ukrainian students reflect on events in Ukraine, return to campus after winter break

MU Ukrainian students reflect on events in Ukraine, return to campus after winter break

Updated: 7 days, 1 hour, 26 minutes, 49 seconds ago

MU Ukrainian students reflect on events in Ukraine, return to campus after winter break

As University of Missouri Ukrainian students Vlad Sazhen and Alina Rohulia returned to campus last week, among the things on their minds was a Russian rocket attack on an apartment building in Dnipro. in eastern Ukraine.

There were 44 killed in the apartment building, included people as young as 17, 15, 3 and 1-years old.

"We should declare the Russian Federation a terrorist state," Sazhen said.

Though some have said the Russian rocket was meant for an infrastructure target and went astray, Rohulia dismissed that idea.

"Everything they're doing is planned," Rohulia said. "It was not a mistake. This was a planned terrorist attack."

It happened on Saturday, when everyone was home, she said.

They spoke Wednesday in Gateway Residence Hall on Sazhen's 20th birthday.

Rohulia's dad, in the Ukrainian Army, had called Sazhen to wish him a happy birthday on Wednesday, they said.

Her dad doesn't share details with her, but did provide some information about the situation in Ukraine, Rohulia said.

"He said he's still positive about the outcome of the war," Rohulia said. "He's pretty sure we will win."

Winning includes the return of all Ukrainian territory to Ukrainian control, they said.

They had returned from two weeks in California, where they stayed with a friend.

"It was very relaxing, not to be overwhelmed by everything," Rohulia said.

And their friend took them to the historic Mount Wilson Observatory with its 100-inch telescope.

"It really is an important thing" for astronomers, Sazhen said.

Russia promised a cease fire over orthodox Christmas, but Sazhen said Ukrainians know not to trust Russian promises.

"Basically everyone knew the cease fire was not going to happen," Sazhen said.

The U.S. now is supplying Ukraine with Patriot surface-to-air missile systems.

"This is amazing," Sazhen said.

"We are being supplied some nice machines," Rohulia siad. "All of this makes us happy the Western countries still support us."

The long-range missiles Ukraine has been seeking also could come, Sazhen said.

The sooner Ukraine gets the equipment it needs, the sooner the war will end with a Ukrainian victory, Sazhen said.

The news on Wednesday was the death of the Ukrainian interior minister in a helicopter crash, an apparent accident. The helicopter crashed into a kindergarten.

"It's a terrible tragedy," Sazhen said. "Mothers rushed to the kindergarten to look for their children."

Bakhmut, in eastern Ukraine, is where the heaviest fighting is now, they said.

It resembles battle zones during World War I, Sazhen said.

"They're using such primitive techniques," he said.

Sazhen displayed maps on his phone showing dozens of bodies of Russian soldiers in the area.

Early in the year, the Ukrainian military used U.S.- supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HiMars, to attack a building in Makiivka, killing 89 Russian soldiers stationed there, Sazhen said.

Rockets and shells struck Kyiv on Dec. 31, Sazhen said. A Russian rocket struck a hotel where his friend Evhnii Savchenko works. His friend took video of the aftermath and helped injured people to ambulances.

In their hometown Kharkiv, Russian rockets struck a fireworks factory Tuesday, causing a huge explosion, said Rohulia, whose mother was in Kharkiv when the fireworks exploded.

"They know where they shell and they don't do anything by mistake," Rohulia said.

A campus coworker gifted Sazhen the copy of Time magazine with its person of the year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, on its cover.

They are happy to be back on campus and back into the routine of classes, they said.

"The semester started good," Rohulia said.

Roger McKinney is the Tribune's education reporter. You can reach him at or 573-815-1719. He's on Twitter @rmckinney9.