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Ukrainian woman living in Arkansas hoping for peace, end to Russian invasion

For Marina, an Arkansas woman, the invasion of Ukraine is hitting close to home. That's because it once was her home, and her mother is still residing there.

ARKANSAS, USA — It's been roughly a full day since Russian military invaded Ukraine, but for one central Arkansas woman it's felt as if time has stood still.

"I haven't sleep in a while. I've been crying, you can tell," said Marina, who was born in Ukraine but now lives in Arkansas. "I've been crying for hours, it's like a dream."

Ukraine may be thousands of miles and seas away, but for Marina who asked for her last name to not be shared for fear of retaliation, she still has close ties to the country.

Thursday morning's invasion by Russia left her in shock.

"Mind blowing... it's astounding," she said. "It's crazy."

That shock also extends to her mother, who still lives in eastern Ukraine near the Donbas region where much of the fighting is happening.

"She's telling me this one got killed, this one got kidnapped, and this plane got taken down, and they already put flags into cities," Marina said. "She just keeps telling me what's happening."

Much of that information has come through countless phone calls with her mom. Marina offered to call her during the interview to offer a sense of what her mother is seeing.

"Just upset, fear, and worry," Marina said, repeating her mother's words via Skype.

That phone call was filled with emotions for both Marina and her mom, as her mother describes a hospital getting hit by Russian fire, leaving Marina in tears.

"She's saying that in big cities, they're hitting the homes, even hospitals," Marina said, crying. "They're hitting hospitals ...can you believe that?"

Ukraine isn't just standing by idly though – citizens and the military are fighting back.

Marina's mother said even her neighbors are fighting back.

"One of the neighbors, she has three children but she went to fight for her. For Ukraine. To fight for her children, to protect her children." Marina said, as her mom spoke.

But, she said that's not what they want – the country wants peace.

"Everybody's tired, exhausted, just from that. No time, no energy to fight for something, for nothing," Marina said. "Innocent lives are dying right now for nothing."

Ukraine is half a world away from Arkansas, but the impacts have never felt closer to home for Marina.

All she wants now, though, is for this to be over.

"The fact that we are made to do that by someone so cruel," Marina said. "I hope Putin finds hope and peace and joy and love, because happy people don't invade other countries."


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