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Anxieties are high among Hawaiʻi residents with family in Ukraine

Ukraine Invasion kyiv 022622
Efrem Lukatsky/AP
A Ukrainian soldier walks past debris of a burning military truck, on a street in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Local families with ties to Ukraine are on edge as Russian forces shelled Ukraine's second-largest city on Monday and closed in on the capital.

Hilo resident Artem Sergeyev has been in touch daily with relatives in Kyiv. He says they are safe for now, trying to stay indoors. Born in the capital, Sergeyev lived there until he was 7-years-old.

"Ninety-nine percent of my family's still there. I have an aunt, couple uncles, my biological dad is there, and my brothers and a sister is there as well," he said.

While the situation is nerve-wracking, Sergeyev says he appreciates the outpouring of support from his Big Island community.

You may know him and his mother as vendors selling piroshkis and borscht at weekend markets in Hilo, Honokaʻa, and Waimea. Sergeyev also works for the Hawaiian Electric Company.

Although Ukraine is 7,000 miles away, Sergeyev says there are still ways for people in Hawaiʻi to get involved.

"Keep up to date on the news. There’s plenty of social media posts about how you can support Ukraine. And it doesn’t even have to be monetary, actually monetary support can be kind of sketchy because you don’t know where the money is going right away unless the organization is verified," he said.

"Non-governmental organizations are preferred if you do donate. Just support the way you can, share your posts, learn about the culture and the history of Ukraine and that whole region and try to understand both sides of the conflict and why it's happening and make your own critical decision on what’s right and what’s wrong," Sergeyev told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Supporters of Ukraine held rallies on Oʻahu and the Big Island over the weekend to protest Russia’s invasion.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Feb. 28, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at
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