Ukrainians in Kyiv area share experiences as Utahns gather in support for invaded country

Posted at 7:14 PM, Feb 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 21:23:02-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns and Ukrainians stood together at the Utah State Capitol Saturday in solidarity for friends, family and loved ones across the world.

It was a day of cheers, speeches and songs for those at the Capitol. Among the crowd stood Utah native Caitlin Rives.

“I’m as close to being Ukrainian as I can," said Rives, who first traveled to Ukraine in 2013 to help teach English.

She remembers seeing the Soviet buildings and gray skies.

"It's intimidating," she said. "It’s very quick to fall into that this is a gray place, but when you start meeting people, that’s where the colors are. That’s what really brings it to life.”

Two of Rives' friends, Nataly Kasianenko and Zhenya Stanishevska, brought out those "colors" of Ukraine for her.

WATCH: Walker Center in downtown SLC lit blue and yellow amid Ukraine conflict

FOX 13 News spoke on FaceTime with Stanishevska, who lives about 20 minutes away from Ukraine's capital city, Kyiv.

“We hear these bangs and shootings all the time," she said.

A curfew has been put in place for Stanishevska's city — they're not allowed outside after 5 p.m.

“How come this can happen in our times? how can this be?” she said.

Stanishevska said troops exploded bridges to her city to prevent Russian troops from coming, but it has also cut them off from supplies.

“For me, I’m terrified that when I talk to her, it might be the last time," said Rives.

Rives' other Ukrainian friend, Kasianenko, is living in an underground parking lot for shelter in Kyiv.

Kasianenko said she's lost track of time because she can't see the sun.

“They are shooting our people, just the pedestrians in the street. They are not focused on the nuclear bases only. No, they are killing the civilians," Kasianenko said in a phone call with FOX 13 News. "They are marking our street signs for their bullets, for their rockets, for their forces.”

Her hope is for help, asking multiple times in the interview to send military aid.

“Thank you for your support — please don’t stop," she said.

READ: Utahn looking to raise funds to help Ukraine

Jonathan Freedman, Utah's Honorary Consul of Ukraine, spoke with FOX 13 News at the rally.

Freedman said there has been an incredible outreach from across the state to support Ukraine.

“The embassy has asked us to call the White House, call our state representatives, encourage more sanctions, and to encourage peacekeepers to enter Ukraine and counter the current attack," Freedman said.

He added that there is also a huge humanitarian need.

The Ukrainian embassy has vetted the following list of organizations to go through:

  • Revived Soldiers Ukraine
  • Come Back Alive (Works directly with the command and personnel of military units, purchasing infrared thermal imaging cameras, night vision goggles, hemostatics, etc.)
  • Army SOS (Manages purchases of necessary ammunition, shields, intercommunication and reconnaissance facilities, etc. and delivers all goods directly)
  • Hospitallers (Works directly on the frontline)
  • Phoenix Wings (The appropriate equipment & uniform, personal non-lethal protection like vests and helmets, required treatment of the wounded soldiers, and repair of the buildings used by the army)
  • Ukrainian Women Veteran Movement (A consolidation of female veterans that organizes preparation for actions in case of emergencies and defense situations, among other things)
  • Vostok SOS (Raising funds for various needs of the army)