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Worried Ukrainian expats in Kuwait condemn invasion

By Ben Garcia

KUWAIT: The Ukrainian community in Kuwait has denounced Russian aggression against their country. Olga Urshuliak, 34, who has been working in Kuwait for the past four years as a fitness instructor, said her country’s sovereignty is under attack. She added as a Ukrainian, she will never surrender, although she was worried about the safety of her mother.

“I am very afraid for my mom who is alone at home. I am the only daughter to my parents. My mom is in western Ukraine, relatively safe from the heavy bombardment by Russia, but I am afraid of separatist groups taking advantage of the situation and killing people. I have never been afraid like this before for the safety of my mother and the rest of my relatives in Ukraine,” a sobbing Urshuliak told Kuwait Times. “What keeps me sane is the fact that I am in constant communication with my mom. My relatives in Kyiv are hiding and cannot come out because they are afraid of missiles falling,” she added.

Urshuliak said many of her countrymen who were in Kuwait left to fight alongside Ukrainian soldiers. “Several of my friends left Kuwait to fight against the invaders. Given the chance, I also want to go home to fight, but I am a woman and the situation is very hard, so I am helping in other ways to defeat our enemies,” she said. “Putin is threatening us with nuclear weapons. But we will fight till the end. I hope the world will do something and fight alongside with us. We just want to protect the sovereignty of our land,” she said.

According to Olga, her mom is ready to die and does not want to move out from her place. “My father died last year. If he would’ve been alive, he would’ve surely joined the Ukrainian military and taken up arms to fight against the aggressor. He was a very patriotic guy. We are not terrorists; we are fighting for our country and we will never give up,” Urshuliak noted.

Russian shelling killed at least 11 civilians in Ukraine’s second most populated city Kharkiv yesterday, the regional governor said, adding that dozens more were wounded. The shelling comes on the fifth day of a Russian invasion of Ukraine and one day after Ukrainian troops repelled an attack on Kharkiv by Moscow’s army, according to reports. The Kremlin said earlier yesterday that the Russian military’s main task was to ensure the safety of civilians.

Second home

Olga loves Kuwait dearly and considers Kuwait as her second home. “I am very happy and satisfied with Kuwait. I am willing to die for my country. Thanks to the people fighting with us; thanks to our patriotic soldiers of Ukraine. I love my country and I will fight till the end. Ukrainian is for the Ukrainian people. I will never give up, just like the president of our country Volodymyr Zelensky, who really acted as a leader in this time of crisis. I want this war to stop. I want Russians to leave our country,” she added.

Olga Urshuliak with her mom in Ukraine.

Dmitro Malets, 48, a teacher in Kuwait, said he has been sleepless during the invasion of his country. He is monitoring his 25-year-old son, who joined the Ukrainian military to defend his country’s sovereignty. “I am very proud of my son, although as a father I cannot sleep well because I am afraid of my son’s safety. I have been working in Kuwait for the past 10 years and have never been so proud of my son until today. He is a fighter and we will overcome this huge crisis in our country. We are highly motivated because the support of our president is intact. He is leading everyone to fight against Russian soldiers,” he said. Dmitro’s family lives around 140 km north of Kyiv. His wife is also a teacher in Kuwait. They also have a 13-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son.

Olga and Dmitro are just two of around 600-700 Ukrainians in Kuwait, mostly working in the sectors of engineering, medicine, sport and education. Olsha Seheda, Third Secretary at the Ukrainian Embassy in Kuwait, confirmed Ukrainian citizens are willing to fight for their country’s freedom. “Yes, there are a number of brave Ukrainian men who went back to Ukraine to fight along with our soldiers. They were called by our president to fight for our country’s freedom. In fact, even foreigners are volunteering to fight alongside our soldiers. Our embassy is encouraging volunteers willing to join us in our struggle,” she noted.

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