Ukrainian exchange student weighs in on Russia-Ukraine conflict

Image from Karavanov on

Francesca Messerschmidt, Staff Writer

While the last few years have been full of uncertainties, a conflict between Russia and Ukraine might not have been something a lot of people expected. With an unknown death toll, destroyed cities, and areas of Ukraine being taken over, it’s hard to tell what could come next.

Russia’s military began to invade Ukraine Feb. 25 under order of President Vladimir Putin, leading many Ukrainian citizens to become injured, flee the country, or even die.

“Russia is looking to regain its sphere of influence,” explained social studies teacher Matt Griffith. “They’re looking to take Ukraine back over like the 1900s.”
Currently, a foreign exchange student from Ukraine is going to school locally. 

“I won a contest to come to go to school in America from an exchange program,” said Vienna High School sophomore Mark Sharovarov.

High school in America is a lot different than school in Ukraine.

“School is a lot easier in America,” said Sharovarov. “Everyone here is really nice.”

Sharovarov gave his input on what’s going on between Ukraine and Russia.

“There’s a war with Russia. Ukraine has been preparing for eight years,” he explained. “Russia has been lying a lot in their news over the war going on.”

This conflict is nothing new to the citizens of Ukraine. 

“It’s not a new conflict,” Griffith said. 

Griffith shared a piece of advice he often gives his students.

“The only color the world sees is green, and it’s a complicated situation for the US to go through.” 

Sharovarov still has family living in Ukraine.

“For this period of time, they’ve moved to a different part of Ukraine and are safe,” said Sharovarov. “I’ve been checking the news everyday, looking for updates and checking with my family.”

The conflict hasn’t just affected Ukraine and Russia; the impacts are becoming global.

“There’s been a ban on Russian goods, especially oil,” said Griffith. “Flour is also often imported from Russia, [so] the cost of food is going to go up.”

There are things students can do to help the people of Ukraine. 

“People can donate to Ukraine’s army to help protect Ukraine and the rest of the world,” said Sharovarov.

There are many charities accepting donations to aid those suffering from this conflict. According to Charity Navigator, these are five star charities:

Alight, Save the Children, Heart to Heart International