Ukrainians in Hong Kong are all “shocked and devastated and have had little sleep”, according to the Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong. Six days have passed since the start of the Russian invasion of their homeland. On Tuesday, March 1, Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said 536 civilian casualties have been recorded so far. The international community has condemned Russia’s actions and imposed sanctions on the state.
On the early morning of February 24, 2022 in a televised speech, Russian president Vladimir Putin announced he was going to carry out a special military operation “to defend people who for eight years are suffering persecution and genocide by the Kyiv regime.” Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba immediately reacted by tweeting that “Putin has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes. This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) February 24, 2022
Ukraine is the second-largest country by area in Europe with a population of around 40 million people. In 2014, the country experienced the Maidan Revolution which overthrew a Russia-friendly government. Following the protests, Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea. The United Nations General Assembly has refused to recognize Russia’s annexation. In 2020, current Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky expressed, against the interests of Putin, Ukraine’s ambition to acquire NATO membership.
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Ukrainians in Hong Kong
Several hundred Ukrainians live in Hong Kong and follow the current developments in their homeland from far away. “Every member of the community has loved ones who are in grave danger,” says a representative from the Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong. “But despair is not an option. Like everyone in our homeland, we are united and strong,” he adds. The society emphasizes the need to support each other and the people of Ukraine.
The invasion of Ukraine has received a lot of international attention. “This crisis is not just relevant for Hong Kong – [it] is relevant for all of humanity. If tyranny and aggression are allowed to win, we will all suffer the consequences,” adds the Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong, referring to the Russian military attacks.
If there’s an anti-war protest in Hong Kong I think I’d join. As there’s none due to many reasons (the social distancing restriction remains one of them), I can only do what I can think of.#Ukraine #StopWarInUkraine #StandWithUkraine #ukrainecrisis #HongkongersStandWithUkraine pic.twitter.com/2NB9EW7ttd
— os so os (@Violet61703458) February 27, 2022
A Ukrainian student, who attends a university in Hong Kong and would like to remain anonymous, shares that the situation has affected them psychologically and emotionally. “My parents are still in Kyiv, and my father is of conscription age,” says the Ukrainian student. “As I come from the occupied Donbass region, it feels like reliving the horror of that time when we fled in July, 2014.”
Being far from the conflict makes the student feel like “a passive observer” but they recognize that being in Hong Kong helps to avoid the danger. “For my family, it is a blessing that I am in Hong Kong in a safe place,” they explain. However, it brings more emotional difficulty. “I haven’t seen my family for two years because of COVID and I don’t know when I will see them again given so much uncertainty,” says the student.
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Ways to help
Demonstrations in support of Ukraine have been happening across the world. On Friday, February 25, a peaceful demonstration of more than 10 people took place near Central Ferry Pier 3 in Hong Kong but quickly ended due to the government’s ban on gatherings of more than two people.
Source 誌hk.feature pic.twitter.com/iDbOslr7vr
— Studio Incendo (@studioincendo) February 27, 2022
Hongkongers can still show their support for Ukraine in different ways. The Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong suggests following the news on The Kyiv Independent, Ukraine’s English-language media outlet and encourages everyone to donate to charities. “Awareness and any kind of support and recognition are very helpful,” adds the anonymous Ukrainian student.
A list of verified charities that accept donations by credit card, provided by the Ukrainian Society of Hong Kong: