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Wright State alum from Ukraine riding out Russian invasion while reporting on it

Reporter encouraged by Ukrainian resolve, friends from Ohio
Farapanov in Cincinnati.jpg
Posted at 10:20 AM, Mar 01, 2022

UKRAINE — Vladyslav Farapanov was a political science major at Wright State University just a couple of years ago. The Ukraine native was living in Dayton as a college student abroad while learning about international relations.

He returned home in 2020 and started working in journalism. He has been a fixture on television as a political analyst, as well as a reporter and commentator online. Since the Russian invasion on Feb. 21, he's reported from Ukraine while riding out a war that's taken its toll on him. He's said he's nervous and scared but hopeful. When Russian President Vladimir Putin put nuclear forces on higher alert, he said it caused a wave of fear, but his country has more than enough spirit to keep fighting.

Farapanov said the wild card in the war has been Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky. The former comedian turned politician was expected to evacuate if Russia invaded. Instead, Zelensky stayed in the capital with his staff and urged his country to fight while calling for help and action from the international community. Farapanov said Zelenksy's leadership has taken Ukrainians and Russians by surprise.

"I did not expect President Zelensky to be so brave," Farapanov said. "He's a freshman in big politics. His video communication with the nation has had many effects. It has calmed people down and it has sent messages to larger countries."

CNN reported that Zelensky and Ukraine's response to Russia's invasion has upended Western international relations.

"Zelensky and his courageous nation have already done more to transform the West's policy toward Russia than 30 years of post-Cold War summits," Stephen Collinson wrote for CNN.com. "The Ukrainian leader's defiance has inspired and shamed the United States and the European Union into going far further - and far faster - in turning Russia into a pariah state than it appeared they were ready to go."

Farapanov said Putin underestimated both Zelensky and the resolve of Ukraine to fight against the invasion. Zelensky has continued to push outside countries for action as the war has continued - asking for supplies, arms and membership into the European Union. On Tuesday, he gave a video speech before European Parliament urging it to accept Ukraine as a member country. Farapanov said these efforts have inspired the citizenry.

"(Putin) did not predict that people would be helping each other through every possible means," Farapanov said. "Whether it is volunteering, donating blood, sharing car rides or providing food."

While the conflict is only several days old, he predicted the invasion would end with a peace deal and a meeting between Zelensky and Putin. He said the U.S. would likely be a signatory if this occurs. Leaders from Russia and Ukraine met in Belarus for talks, but the war has continued.

"The spirit here is high," Farapanov said. "Putin has done more to unite Ukraine than some of its previous presidents."

Farapanov said his morale has been given a boost because of his connections in Ohio. Many of his former classmates have been checking on him, some he hadn't talked to for some time before the invasion. He considers Ohio a second home, one he has missed since returning to his home country.

"(I'm) so thankful to the people texting me, praying for me," he said. "I would like to see them all again. I would like to see Fairborn, Dayton and Cincinnati again. I call Ohio my state all the time when I'm on TV or talking to relatives and friends. I miss it there, because of the people. Like now, the people are so helpful."

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