Ukrainians are prepared:The invasion can happen now or in a couple years

By David Fleet
Anna Sorochynska remains stoic. 
Sorochynska a native of Vinnytsia, a community of about 400,000 located in west-central Ukraine—a country now with an estimated 150,000 Russian troops in a threatening position near its border, according to news sources. For the past several weeks, the Russian military contingent has sparked tensions as the Ukraine’s separation from the Soviet Union and ties with the West move forward.
Ukraine has ambitions to join Nato, which Russian President Putin sees as a direct threat to Russia’s power in the East.
Sorochynska, who is a Ukrainian citizen, was a student at Goodrich High School during the 2015-16 school year as part of the Future Leaders Exchange, or FLEX program. The U.S. State Department-sponsored scholarship program is for students from the countries of the former Soviet Union, including the Ukraine. Sorochynska stayed with the Brehl family of Goodrich. The Citizen newspaper contacted Sorochynska last week who discussed the situation in the Ukraine. About 95 percent of the people in her area speak the native language Ukrainian, the other 5 percent speak Russian. Sorochynska speaks both in addition to English.
“In both Kyiv and Vinnytsia the situation is pretty calm, everybody is ‘chill,’ I would say,” said Sorochynska.
“Those who are planning to rejoin the military and the volunteer units are doing some basic training in their spare time including me, I have just contacted the local enthusiasts and we are planning to visit a shooting range this week, and some civilian along with former military people have also joined the official Territorial Defense Forces. In case of an escalation they will serve as auxiliary units to assist our military.”
Since her departure from Goodrich about six years ago, Sorochynska’s life has undergone multiple changes and twists, she said
After returning from the United States, she graduated high school in her then hometown of Vinnytsia, then enrolled into Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv to study Political Science. In 2018 she dropped out and joined one of the Ukrainian volunteer militias in the Eastern Ukraine.
“I was a part of a volunteer unit, from the summer of 2018 through winter 2019 in Eastern Ukraine, it was not a long tour compared to other people who spent several years on the frontline, but I believe I made at least some input,” she said. “My decision was mostly a question of responsibility and honesty to myself.”
Sorochynska said the current escalation of tensions with the Russians was imminent ever since the Russo-Ukrainian War started in 2014 that ended in absorbing Crimea into Russia. The stint Sorochynska served were relatively calm as contrasted to 2014-2015 and included 15 to 30 minutes of combat action daily.
“Other than that, (there was) a lot of digging, trench reinforcement, weapon maintenance, and observation/reconnaissance,” she said. “The reason I did not join the official Armed Forces is that you have to sign a three-year contract if it is your first time in the military, and I honestly was not ready for that type of commitment. Military service requires a very particular mindset, and I deeply respect those who are serving, but that is just not the job for everybody. Volunteer militias, on the other hand, are a phenomenon that emerged in 2014 and played a vital role in the defense of our country. Their emergence was a necessity, because the military was in a sad, even pathetic, state after years of corruption and was ruled by officers with a Soviet past and mindset.”
In November 2018, then Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko declared martial law due to an incident in the Kerch Strait—separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west and the Taman Peninsula of Russia in the east.
“I was at the frontline then,” she said. “To be honest, nothing changed much for us, it was the same old, some shooting, some minor shelling, no movie type of stuff really, no advancements from either side, so pretty much the same situation as in the past three or four years. But of course, the civilians were scared and nervous, I remember my dad calling me and asking if I was doing OK. I reassured him that I was doing fine, and I really was, but he still sounded extremely worried. I believe that today the situation is similar. I have reached out to my friends and colleagues who are at the frontline now, and they say that nothing has changed there.”

“So what I am trying to say is that the tensions are always higher in peaceful cities where people don’t receive much information and don’t know how to act in case of an emergency,” she said. “At the combat zone, you know the protocol, receive some ‘intel’ and see the enemy with your own eyes, so you feel more confident and prepared.”
Sorochynska said today the Ukrainian Army is in a much better state, and the need for volunteer units has faded, she added.
“Those volunteer units, which are still at the frontline, do all their work in cooperation with the (Ukraine) Army,” she said. “People who stay in volunteer units now, (are) not receiving any financial benefit whatsoever, are highly motivated and are usually very experienced and skilled. I was very lucky to learn from my highly professional colleagues during my time on the frontline.”
In January, Sorochynska, now 22 years old, moved from Kyiv back to her hometown of Vinnytsia with her husband.
“As a civilian you never know what to expect and you understand that you won’t be the first to know that the war has begun,” she said. “Those who are willing to rejoin the fight, will do exactly that. I hope that in case of an escalation, all my civilian friends will act responsibly and relocate to a safer area. I do not support draft or conscription, because in my mind, only motivated people will assist the cause in an efficient way. Those who are not willing to fight, should not fight, but that, of course, is my subjective opinion. I know a lot of people, myself included, which are ready to rejoin the effort rapidly, so I don’t think that the Joint Forces (official name for all the military units serving on the frontline) will lack human resource.”
Today the Russians have a heavy military presence in the occupied Crimea region, and their proxies control some areas in Eastern Ukraine. The frontline hasn’t changed much since the so-called armistice of 2015. The pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine are mostly composed of locals or Russian volunteers, but their commanding officers belong to the Russian Armed Forces. Russian soldiers also compose a big part of their sniper and artillery units.
“I believe that Ukrainians are prepared for the fight,” she said. “The level of readiness is way higher than in 2014, and urban warfare is tough, so if Russia begins a full-scale operation, they are going to suffer heavy casualties regardless of the outcomes and many Russian mothers will never see their children again.”
Western aid to Ukraine is highly appreciated, said Sorochynska.
“However, we need to understand that nobody is obliged to fight our battles for us,” she said. “With this knowledge, motivation, and an understanding that we are defending our land – we are prepared. The invasion can happen now or in a couple years, so it is important to stay alert.”
Currently we keep living our lives, working, partying, celebrating our holidays, and spending quality time with our loved ones, she said.
“Russia wants to scare us and exhaust us psychologically, but Ukrainians possess an innate sense of humor, optimism and incredible courage, so Russia will not achieve its goals easily.”

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