Mykhaylo, Yuriy and Oleksander: current location – Portugal; Desired location – Ukraine. “I’m only afraid if I stay here with my arms crossed”
As images of the lines of Ukrainians trying in various places on the border. Only women and children can leave because martial law instituted by President Zelensky says that men of legal age must defend the country – even if they don’t want to take up arms. In Portugal, more than 3000 kilometers away from the conflict, these three Ukrainians are considering making the opposite move – entering Ukraine and participating in the war.
Mykhaylo Shemliy – Misha to friends – came to Portugal with his parents 15 years ago, but the rest of the family stayed in Lviv, in western Ukraine. Grandparents, uncles, cousins, cousins, 20 or 25″, he is not able to specify, but visits – almost every year and the two are almost every year and the two are always numerous. The 22-year-old says that “the only positive thing” [até agora] bombings were not reached”, and so the arms and preparation of the Ukrainian military were affected, because otherwise “the country’s goal no longer existed”.
He has been a Portuguese citizen for about five years and was introduced as the head of the Volt party’s list by Santarém, but Misha has not forgotten his responsibilities towards the country that saw him. “I have friends in the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense and I have been in constant contact with them,” he tells CNN Portugal.
“The danger is great in any district. We are planning how we will act.” Evacuating the women and leaving the men “to defend the country” could be the first step. And Misha wants to be there, to participate in the war and diplomacy. “I’ll see how it goes today and tomorrow, but I’m ready to buy a one-way ticket at any time.” If you have to go to Ukraine, you already have a plan: fly to Krakow, Poland, and drive from there. “I can’t be afraid. It’s a duty”, he guarantees.
If the situation does not stabilize, it could start within a week. Until then, his preference is to outline a “diplomatic mission” in Portugal to welcome civilians fleeing the war.
“I’m only afraid if I stay here with my arms crossed. My conscience would gnaw at me for the rest of my life”, says Mykhaylo Shemliy
There are more emigrants and Ukrainians will face for their country on the front line, even with military experience, guarantees. “Already anticipating a scenario like this”, he explains. The matter has already been discussed among members of the Ukrainian community in Portugal “for a long time”. And what does the family have to say about it? “Women are not even worth warning, because nobody wants to let their children and grandchildren go to war.” On the other hand there also “if no one goes, there will be no one to do it”, and the men of his family too.
“I’m just waiting to be called”
“A month ago I went on social networks about groups that get information to go to war”, says Yuriy Komdra about the moment he decided to fight for his country of origin. At 50 years old, he has been in Portugal for more than two decades. “I’ve already filled out a form with my details. I’m just waiting to be called.” After the Invasion of Russia on Thursday, it is believed that it will only be a matter of time before he is called. “If they don’t contact me, contact me”, he stresses.
Yuriy moved to Portugal, to earn money for a year or two, but he went to create with the roots of his wife and the birth of his son. “He’s 18, he’s studying and for now we have our life here,” he explains. But much of the family is still in Ukraine, in Lviv. His five brothers, uncles and cousins live there, “about 50 people”, so many that some of them don’t even know them well. He usually visits the country during the holidays and he already has the money he has saved in Portugal. “When I retire I want to go back and stay there until the end of my days”, he confesses.
Asked about the best recordings he has from Ukraine, he jokes: “If I have to answer, I’ll never shut up.” He remembers Easter, going to the parish and church, which are always different in Portugal. “I can’t explain it. It’s my country.” Whenever nostalgia returns with you, it only increases with age. “The older I get, the more I miss it.”
Following Ukrainian satellite television, reporting and just like every morning the world had collapsed – the surroundings were bombed overnight. He hastened to contact one of the brothers, who appeared to be “very traumatized”. “There were sirens everywhere,” describes Yuryi. “He just told me ‘we’ll talk later'”.
Still no one has the will to fight, only her will and the child, hardly the woman will ever know for accepting. “I want to show my son that we must defend our homeland”, she says, confessing that she has never been to the country and would like to see it put to the test.
“Of course it scares me, but anyone who goes to war says it becomes a job like any other.”
“I will guard my country and my family”
Oleksander turned 38 this week and days later saw Ukraine invaded. He prefers to keep his identity anonymous, with reprisals. He moved alone to Portugal ten years ago, motivated by “better finances” and the desire to help his uncles. From then on, he didn’t give up. “I got a residency certificate, a work contract, I bought a house and even my own car wash business,” he told CNN Portugal.
A decade later, his conquests became secondary in just one day. In contact with his relatives, who live in Kmenytskym, in the countryside, he does not hide a feeling of helplessness and a huge need for help. “If I go to war; I will guard my country and my family,” she says.
The decision has not yet been shared with the family. “It is very heavy news” for You are sure you do not agree, but if Ukraine needs volunteers to fight the guarantee that will. “Today was not necessary, but tomorrow is not known”, he concludes.