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'We've been crying and we just can't stop': Nebraskan from Russia calls for peaceful coexistence

Posted at 7:35 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 20:35:37-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine rages abroad, Nebraskans say this war is hard to bear.

One Omaha resident from Russia, Viktoriya Phillips is speaking out. She says there's no need to identify Vladimir Putin's objectives with the opinions of the Russian community.

"We've been crying and we just can't stop and the worst feeling is we are helpless here. There is nothing we can do," Phillips said.

Phillips has deep ties to both Russia and Ukraine. Born and raised in Russia, her father is Ukrainian and she immigrated to Omaha in 1999.

"You're watching your parents that you love equally. That you love the same. Fight each other and hate each other. This is why it's so extremely hard for us, this situation," Phillips said.

UNL Professor Olha Tytarenko works in the Russian department and has reservations about the narrative that Ukraine is "a little brother nation" to Russia.

"Many people, Russians might think that Ukraine is their little brother as Belarus is. As they used to be together historically, for one part of history, right. But Ukrainians don't share this sentiment, brotherly family sentiment, especially now. No one calls Russia their brothers. Everyone denies family connections to Russia and Ukraine," Tytarenko said.

Tytarenko is privileged to speak and communicate with Russians who share a distrust of Putin's regime.

"I think educated Russia, educated Russians, do not approve of what is happening. They'd rather not have this happening. They are against the war because they don't share the agenda of the actions behind the regime," Tytarenko said.

It's difficult to predict how the war will unfold, but this professor says the crisis could spell out a "historical moment" for Russia.

"If there was a will of people to voice, raise their voices against the current regime, Europe will be there to help," Tytarenko said.

"Still having hard time believing this is actually happening. We just want to tell you we are there with you. Do everything possible to – I know we are pretty much helpless here to show you our hearts are there," Phillips said.

Phillips works for the Douglas County Historical Society where there's an exhibit that features Russian and Ukrainian items in the same display case to showcase its common history.

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