Clemson grad students from Ukraine are keeping close contact with family and watching the crisis at home escalate. They’ve had a hard time sleeping as tension builds.
“I talked to my parents one hour ago and they sound way more optimistic than I’m feeling over here,” says Yuriy Galaera.
The students say the armed standoffs in Ukraine’s Crimea Region between Russian troops and Ukraine’s military have nothing to do with what started the protests in Kiev months ago.
“It’s just invasion of Russian troops without any substantial reason,” says Mykhailo Savcshak.
“People protest for hope, freedom, for democracy, for basic things you guys have in the United States,” Galaera says.
Both met at the Clemson Social Media Listening Center to see how the world is reacting to the crisis online. The online chatter is mainly negative and the center is tracking which words are popping up the most. Words like Ukraine, Russia and Crimea are the biggest standouts but the word military continues to grow. The biggest spike in Tweets came over the weekend when Russian Troops invaded Crimea.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the protests were threatening Russians in Crimea and that’s why troops were moved in there. President Barack Obama calls the invasion an “act of aggression” but the US won’t respond with military action. Despite that, Savcshak says his brother and other men are reading to join the military if Ukraine does respond with military action.
“It is his duty as he told me to protect all our families and all our friends,” Savcshak says.
Online chatter and these students hope diplomacy prevails.