Russia-Ukraine Crisis

‘It's About Freedom': Professor Sheltering in Ukraine Provides Daily Analysis From War Zone

At one point during the interview, Wynnyckyj had to suddenly turn off the lights and relocate to his basement for safety

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Stories of strength, survival and optimism continue to emerge from Ukraine. Mychailo Wynnyckyj, a professor currently sheltering in place with his family just south of Kyiv offers one such story.

Wynnyckyj, his wife and four kids relocated to a new home after evacuating their apartment in downtown Kyiv, where Wynnyckyj teaches. 

“This is a little bit of a safer spot, we think," Wynnyckyj said. "The closest explosion has been about 20 miles away … obviously that’s still stressful.”

Wynnyckyj is an accomplished author and professor of political and social science. He’s been writing a daily briefing on Facebook with analysis of what’s happening on the ground. He said on Tuesday that he anticipated the invasion and prepared accordingly. 

“We have a great deal of canned and dried foods with us,” Wynnyckyj said. 

The family can hear air raid sirens periodically and see aircraft fly overhead. He said that, against all odds, Ukrainians have been holding their own on the ground. It’s air support they need. 

“Obviously, Ukrainians are not doing very well in defending against Russian rockets and Russian aircraft," Wynnyckyj said. "However, what we’ve done surprisingly well with ... is stopping the Russian ground assault." 

Wynnyckyj was asked if air support could be the difference in the war. 

“Absolutely," Wynnyckyj said. "It’s surface-to-air missiles and aircraft." 

Wynnyckyj added that the military conflict in Ukraine is a war of psychology. While the Ukrainian people are relentlessly defending their homeland, morale among Russian soldiers is running low. He said that the Russians have been told they would be welcomed as "liberators" by the Ukrainian people, among other misconceptions. 

“At what point do [Russians] start questioning who they’re fighting for and why they’re fighting?” Weil wondered. “Well, that’s actually happening at the moment. The questioning of orders … mass defections.” 

At one point during the interview, Wynnyckyj had to suddenly turn off the lights and relocate to his basement for safety. 

Despite frequent moments like that one, Wynnyckyj said, he, like many others, plans to stay in his homeland. 

“I want to be able to raise my kids freely," Wynnyckyj said. "My wife and I value that freedom. I think that's really what this war is all about. It's about freedom. We want to be Ukrainians. We don’t want to be Russians. That’s all it’s about: freedom and being who you are.” 

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