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‘Those who stayed are constantly on my mind;’ Helping those affected by war-torn areas of Ukraine

DAYTON — In the Dayton area, people keep working to help the victims of war.

Maria Steffee a board member of the Ukrainian Society of Greater Dayton, has family in Ukraine and has spent a lot of the last year helping those impacted by the Russian invasion.

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“Those who stayed are constantly on my mind, and so is the situation for almost everybody in this organization,” Steffee said.

Not a day has passed in the last year that she has not thought of the people in war-torn Ukraine.

“We have found a way to actually soothe our pain a little bit by doing something. The destruction that is rained down by Russian missiles has only increased in the recent months and that makes the humanitarian crisis on the ground almost greater and certainly not less than in the very beginning of war,” Steffee said

University of Dayton Professor Jaro Bilocerkowycz, an expert on Ukraine and Russia, says, “Putin profoundly miscalculated.” The miscalculation is the reason why Ukraine has shocked the world, taking on the larger, stronger Russian military.

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“If Russia pulls out its troops from occupied Ukrainian territory, the war ends. If Ukraine stops fighting, Ukraine ends. So there’s a big difference there. In other words, Putin started the war unprovoked, illegal— he can easily end it,” Jaro Bilocerkowycz, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Dayton, said.

Though this war is on the other side of the globe, it does not yet involve U.S. Troops; however, it does involve the world’s security.

“This isn’t just about Ukraine and Russia. This is about security in the world. Democracies in the world versus autocracies. If Ukraine, a large country that’s fighting bravely, were to fall— the rest of Europe of would be in danger,” said Bilocerkowycz.

With world security in question, Bilocerkowycz sees this conflict continuing for a while, with the end not coming anytime soon. With no end in sight, this means daily life in Ukraine will be in a state of crisis.

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“It’s sort of impossible to live in a constant state of crisis because eventually, the psyche just gets tired of it. But Ukrainian people don’t have a choice. They have made this stage of crisis their everyday life. And just because somebody is not crying for help on your screen 24/7– it does not mean that the need has gone away. It only means it is impossible to cry 24/7,” Steffee said.

The Ukrainian Society of Greater Dayton says that the needs of Ukrianinans have tripled since last year. They are still taking donations to help those in Ukraine, but also refugees here in the Miami Valley. If you would like to help, refer to their facebook page for more information.