How do I help my nephew in Ukraine?

This blog is written by Evgeny Shapka, a Tias Student at Tilburg University. He is both of Russian and Ukrainian descent, but has a Russian passport. Currently he lives in Rotterdam, where he is doing an internship. For Univers he wrote a few blogs and articles on the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.My father was born in the village of Shapkivka in Ukraine. Since my parents got divorced, I had no contact with my father’s relatives. When I turned 30, I decided to visit them in Shapkivka.

It was in May of 2006, and the trees were in bloom in Shapkivka. The first relative I met was Vitaliy, my nephew twice removed. He was 15 years old at the time. When I arrived, Vitaliy was fixing his bike outside of the garage. He said hello to me, and called his grandmother for me.

My relatives were friendly and very welcoming. I visited Shapkivka three more times, once with my daughter. Some of my Ukrainian family visited me in Moscow as well. We have not been chatting very often, but we do skype each other sometimes.

Recently, I woke up in my apartment and checked my smartphone automatically. ‘Vitaliy would like to become your friend on Facebook,’ it said.

We did not discuss details related to Vitaliy’s military service

After a few messages, I called Vitaliy via Facebook. He told me that he was mobilized a year ago and has been serving in Ukrainian army. Because of the war conflict in Eastern Ukraine he could not refuse this mobilization. We did not discuss details related to Vitaliy’s military service. I know that he finished the local college and worked as a paramedic before this mobilization. I hope that Vitaliy does not take too much risk during his current service.

After this call, I feel a real shame. First of all, I do not know how I can help Vitaliy. Secondly, I am a Russian citizen and my country supports one of the parties involved in the war conflict in Eastern Ukraine. After all, people are dying every day in Ukraine, but nobody in Europe is worried by this war. When did you see TV news from Ukraine last time?


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