A voice from Ukraine: An exclusive interview with a daring gamer

Mykhailo, a 19 year-old Ukrainian citizen, shares with the Eagle Eye what it was like fleeing from his home city.

Demonstrators+carry+a+banner+during+a+protest+against+Russias+massive+military+operation+in+Ukraine%2C+in+Nicosia%2C+Cyprus+February+27%2C+2022+%28The+Indian+Express%29

Reuters

“Demonstrators carry a banner during a protest against Russia’s massive military operation in Ukraine, in Nicosia, Cyprus February 27, 2022” (The Indian Express)

Ethan Tornberg, Reporter

On February 24th, 2022, the Russian Federation led by President Vladimir Putin declared a long anticipated “special operation” in Ukraine. This came shortly after the recognition of two break-away states from Ukraine by Russia—the Donetsk People’s Republic and Luhansk People’s Republic. 

This “special operation” has since been recognized as a total invasion of Ukraine with the primary objective of a Russian annexation of the entire country. 

Military casualties are in the hundreds and growing. The humanitarian impact of this conflict has increasingly worsened with reports of civilian casualties also reaching into the hundreds. 

From gun fire in the streets of once peaceful cities, to the sounds of missiles flying overhead, Ukrainian civilians are currently facing the realities of war. Tens of thousands have fled their homes and are pouring through neighboring countries’ borders looking for a refuge from the storm of death and destruction.

Mykhailo, a Ukrainian citizen, is one of millions currently impacted by this conflict. 

Through an online strategy MMO game, Mykhailo can connect with other players around the world. This has allowed him to also connect with the Eagle Eye, and he has shared insight about his experience fleeing from his home in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv.

The following interview was conducted over Direct Messaging on Friday, February 25th 2022. Questions asked by Ethan T. and answered by Mykhailo, (19). Mykhailo has consented to the publication of this interview.

Q: Have you lived in Ukraine your whole life? 

A: Yes, I was born in Kyiv and lived my whole life in Ukraine.

Q: Where do you plan to go now?

A: Right now, I temporarily live in Lviv with my family. Any man 18-60 years-old range can’t leave Ukraine. 

Q: What is it like to have to plan out your next steps going forward?

A: We can’t plan anything right now because the future in this situation is unclear. 

Q: Is an attack something you’ve always had to plan for?

A: We tried to improvise because attack was unexpected for civilians. 

Q: Do Ukrainians feel they are a part of Russia or is Putin overreaching that claim?

A: Everything what Putin said is purest lie. We have never considered ourselves part of Russia, and if Ukrainians were dissatisfied with our government, there would be a third Maidan [Maidan referring to civil unrest/protests].

Q: What is it like to always live under this constant threat? 

A: Honestly, it’s scary. When Russian troops are already shelling populated areas with Grad missiles, you cannot be sure that the next missile won’t hit your house. 

Q: How has the last month been like preparing for this? 

A: Our army was prepared for attack. Javelins and NLAWs [A type of anti-tank weapon] can stop whole tank column and without help from USA and EU, we could have big problems. 

Q: Being of age, do you plan on joining the civilian militia?

A: My dad joined militia, I’m staying with my mother and sister. 

Q: What do you want the world to know about you and your situation?

A: We are just one of many families in Ukraine. If it helps our heroes on the front lines, I wish the other countries would take Russian aggression more seriously because the European Union is behind Ukraine, and it would be next. 

Q: What should the world do next? 

A: I can’t solve this kind of problem, it’s very hard in an economical plan, but the most important thing can be only Russian residents – choose a different president. 

[End of interview transcript]

War has no winners, only death and destruction. The civilians in any war are put in harm’s way, and they are often the collateral damage of others decisions. 

While world leaders attempt to solve this issue through peaceful resolutions, the conflict continues to rage on.