‘We are all at war:’ Desperation grows among Ukrainian diaspora

Victoria Pidlisetska is a Ukrainian living in Los Angeles who rarely puts down her phone as she waits to hear from family and friends stranded back home in Ukraine. Her parents spend most of their time in a bomb shelter while her best friend has run out of food and water. The segment is part of “Hear Me Out,” an ongoing video series by LA Times Studios expanding on letters to the editor.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Ukrainians across the United States have been following the news of Russia's invasion around the clock. For one Ukrainian living in Los Angeles, it means rarely putting down her phone as she waits to hear from family members and friends and hopes for a quick end to the war.

    This segment from LA Times Studios is part of their "Hear Me Out" video series expanding on letters to the editor.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    There are so many people that I cannot get in touch with. My friend who just had a baby two months ago is currently surrounded by Russian troops. She wasn't online for over 10 hours. So I'm not sure. My other friend, I also exchanged some texts with her yesterday. She told me that her three-year-old son was helping people in the bomb shelter to build the bedding for the night. And she was crying because her realizing that your three -year-old is in the bomb shelter, helping put together place to sleep at night. That's just heartbreaking. Yeah.

    I had a rule that I don't take phones or any gadgets when I'm with my kid, because I don't want to show him bad example. And we have a no gadget policy until three. And right now it's like, everything is canceled. It's like my hand extension of me right now. And that's — We are all at war, even, being here.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    Hi Dad.

  • Victoria’s Father:

    Hi.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    Have you slept?

  • Victoria’s Father:

    No I only take short naps, I can't. I haven't slept for a while.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    You haven't slept for a while.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    My name is Victoria Pidlisetska. All my family is in Ukraine. My parents are currently staying in my hometown in the apartment where I grew up. There's a good bomb shelter where they can be relatively safe.

  • Victoria’s Father:

    I just got to grandma's place and there was an alarm just now and there was another one at 10 p.m. We regularly have two or three of them between 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. on a daily basis.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    One of my biggest fears is that my, uh, grandparents just won't evacuate. We won't be able to make them leave their home where they spent over 50 years. I just hope that we won't get to that point.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    I wanted to show you something my mom filmed on the Polish border crossing when she was dropping off my sister. Everybody who was standing there were singing the national anthem to console the baby and the board guard was trying to comfort that little child. I definitely wish I was there. And if I wasn't mother to my two-year-old, I would probably just go back.

  • Victoria Pidlisetska:

    I decided to write a letter, not having any other ways to help my people in Ukraine. I decided to be on the informational front of this war. This is my letter to the L.A. Times: We were warned about the possible Russian invasion in December. Yet there was no alarm. We've grown accustomed to terror on anxiety and terrible news. The world didn't hear it then, but now the war is upon us. Now I'm a distant observer, unable to stand shoulder to shoulder with my compatriots, but it feels like the world still does not hear us.

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