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Tamil Nadu students from Ukraine have seen the East European nation being invaded and ravaged. They have gone through a terrible ordeal to get out of the conflict zone to safety. They endured tiring journeys in crowded trains and buses, walked in sub-zero temperatures and braved uncertainty and war anxiety. Now they are back and coolly considering the war.

In a survey of students who returned from Ukraine, many say that though Russia is the invader and has put their future at stake, it has valid reasons for doing so. Though sympathetic to their host country, many, especially girl students, fault the West. Together they echo the neutral stance India has taken in the United Nations on the ongoing war.

Russia – Ukraine standoff evolved into a full fledged war but the trouble had been brewing for long as NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) violated the promises made to former Soviet leader Gorbachev in 1991 when Soviet Russia disintegrated. NATO agreed not to expand eastwards but ended squeezing Russia by allowing Soviet bloc countries to join the organization. Russian President Vladimir Putin has been chafing the constant It is no wonder that Putin feels that such expansion is a threat to the sovereignty of Russia.

Vijayanand from Cumbum, who was studying medicine in Ukraine, says: “Any leader in his position would have behaved like Putin. Ukraine should have never allowed NATO and the US to dictate terms. Zelenskyy and Ukraine stand as backstabbed people at this juncture,” he says.

A pro-Russian president of Ukraine was overthrown in a non-violent revolution and Ukraine was moving towards the west under current president Volodymir Zelensky. Putin has said that his reasons for going to war are to protect ethnic Russians in Ukrainian provinces and ensure Ukraine, a close neighbour and economic and defense partner of Russia, does not join NATO.

Samuel Zurich Rao from Cumbum doing his final year medicine also sympathizes with Ukraine. Russians have started killing civilians which is not acceptable to him. The war has engulfed sports people and intellectuals alike in Ukraine. The people have taken up arms against Russia and the bloodshed stop for both countries, he said. He recalled how Ukrainian and Romanian volunteers helped Indian students at the border.

Malini doing her fourth year medicine says that the US backstabbed Ukraine and drawn the East European country into war with Russia. The NATO and the US are to be blamed for this human misery, she says. Ramya (name changed) feels that Putin is unleashing terror on ordinary folks of Ukraine. He has started targeting civilian establishments in place of military infrastructure, she said. The Indian authorities failed to act on time evacuating Indian students, thus putting them in great danger, she adds.

Not all students from Ukraine agree that Russia is the aggressor and add Ukraine is to be equally blamed for this mess. Ruban Gladwin, final year medical student, spent the first three years of his degree in Russia and next three years in Ukraine. Both Russians and Ukrainians are friendly people. The ego clashes of Putin and Zelensky and NATO’s meddling eventually led to the war. Ukraine should have resolved the Crimea crisis with Russia and remained at status quo to be an independent country, he says.

P Bharath says he would have supported Russia if he had never been to Ukraine. “I have lived in Ukraine now. I can’t support Russia but Ukraine. Ukrainians are wonderful people and it is sad to see the country in ruins,” he says.

Vijayanand from Cumbum agrees on the point. There is no point blaming Putin. It is natural that he feels threatened when NATO forces are at Russia’s borders. “Any leader would have behaved like Putin in such case. Ukraine should have never allowed NATO and the US to dictate terms. Zelenskyy and Ukraine stand as backstabbed people at this juncture,” he says.

Ruban Gladwin, final year medical student, spent the first three years of his degree in Russia and next three years in Ukraine. He says ego clashes of Putin and Zelensky and NATO’s meddling eventually led to the war. Ukraine should have resolved the Crimea crisis with Russia and remained at status quo to be an independent country

Ramesh (name changed) states that both Russia and Ukraine are to be blamed for this war. Ukraine should have never opted for the Nato alliance in the first place. Russians are right to assert their sovereignty because one country after another of the former Soviet bloc joined NATO except Belarus. The pro-Russian president was removed and Crimea annexation happened. “Russia stands threatened and I feel what Putin doing is right,” he said.

Thamaraiselvan Nithis from Madurai studying medicine refuses to take a stand on either of these countries. “I have Russian and Ukrainian friends and they are lovely people. Most of Ukraine speaks Russian and they share close bond with Russia. The war should stop for the common good of both the countries’ people,” he added.

Aarthika from Mayiladuthurai sympathasises with Ukraine. Russia has already seized Crimea and Lubansk region and put Ukrainians under great pressure. It’s a needless war that wrecked many lives including our future, she said. Ukrainians are friendly people who treat girls with dignity and it’s sad that they have to undergo this ordeal, she adds.

Harini from Kovilpatti, studying third year medicine, says she can’t go against Ukrainians. They are very kind and generous. They go out of way to help Indian students. “Russia may be our all-weather friend, but I can’t stop supporting Ukraine,” she said.

P Bharath says he would have supported Russia if he had never been to Ukraine. “I have lived in Ukraine now. I can’t support Russia but Ukraine. Ukrainians are wonderful people and it is sad to see the country in ruins,” he says.

 


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