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Ukrainian couple, now living in Indianapolis, discuss invasion and future

"It has changed our lives and the lives of Ukrainian people forever."
Olga, Ruslan and their kids
Posted at 11:56 AM, Feb 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-26 11:56:34-05

INDIANAPOLIS — As people try desperately to leave Ukraine amid the ongoing attack from Russia, Olga & Ruslan Antonova consider themselves lucky. They're from Ukraine, but made their way to Indianapolis before the invasion started.

"The war started on February 24 and for me, this day and a half is like a year. A whole life. It has changed our lives and the lives of Ukrainian people forever," Olga said.

As soon as the United States started sounding the alarm about an imminent Russian invasion, their friends and colleagues through Mission to Ukraine, a Christian non-profit based in Central Indiana, began pleading with the couple to leave with their two kids. They had active visas which made the process easier, but leaving their family and friends, along with their oldest son who's in college in Lithuania, wasn't an easy decision.

"Still, at that time in Ukraine, not so many people believed in what is happening now," Ruslan said.

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While still in shock over what's happening, the couple says they've always known this might be a possibility. There's been tension ever since Ukraine declared its independence back in 1991 from the Soviet Union.

"We know that Russia has never accepted independence of Ukraine. It has always been wanting to get it back," Olga said. "Russia, Putin wants to revive Soviet Union. We have lived under the Soviet Union, so I would never want to go through it again."

While they're thankful to be safe in Indianapolis, the Antonovas say they have thought about the future and what going back to Ukraine would look like.

"We're willing to come back if God allows. We're willing to come back to our church, our ministry, our work, our parents that are there," Ruslan said.

"But it will also depend on what kind of country it'll be in the future. If God allows Ukraine to be occupied, we cannot go back," Olga said.

As world leaders mull over what to do about Vladimir Putin's decision to invade a sovereign nation, Olga and Ruslan's message to everyone, especially leaders like President Joe Biden, is simple.

"We have to stand for Ukraine and help this country to continue to exist."