As a Russian-American, I Stand with Ukraine


Natalie Kozhemiakin, Brimmer and May School

NESPA Winner: Bylined Column, 2022

The Gator, Brimmer and May School, Chestnut Hill, Mass.

As the war between Russia and Ukraine escalates by the hour, the world is watching in anticipation. Sights of bombings, airstrikes, and upwards of 100,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing in advance of Russian troops have dominated global news and left viewers with a vivid picture of the Putin regime’s horrific aggression.

As a second-generation immigrant with ancestry in both Russia and Ukraine, I’ve found the recent invasion disturbing to face from afar. While I identify as ethnically Russian, my lineage traces back to the border of the two nations, most notably in the Kharkiv Oblast of Eastern Ukraine.

Parallel to this intertwined ancestry are the historic cultural ties between Russia and Ukraine which date back to the origins of Kievan Rus—the first East Slavic state which reached its peak in the 11th century—and remain strong leading up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

However, these strong ties have not always benefited Ukraine, which has been repeatedly subjected to Russification. Yet, Ukraine has managed to develop and preserve its beautiful language and traditions as it remains a distinct nation with its own identity and aspirations.


Read the full story here.