UD professor shares messages from Ukraine relatives: ‘Until tomorrow, if I live long enough…’


Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a series of communications between UD professor Tatiana Liaugminas and her family abroad. The first piece was published on March 1. The messages below are unedited to preserve their original form.

Ukraine is destroyed. A pile of rubble replaces what used to be thriving neighborhoods. I’ve been in constant telephone contact with Kharkiv, and my niece’s accounts are devastating — the images we see on television pale in comparison with her descriptions. According to her, the most frightening and unsettling are the wailing sounds, the bombing and the fact that one rocket can take out ten city blocks.

“If it were only street fighting, we would be able to cautiously maneuver, wait for the right moment to run out in search of food. Everyone helps each other — sharing, bartering, giving away. Humanitarian aid reaches us, but the lines are impossibly long… and being outside for a long time… you don’t know when you’ll be hit.”

The situation continues to be precarious for the thousands who have fled, and for those considering fleeing, leaving everything behind.

After spending two days in Poland, the Kyiv family — my cousin, her daughter and twin boys — is now in Germany, welcomed by friends who’ve lived there for several years, and Tuesday morning my niece in Kharkiv, exhausted and with a voice devoid of emotion, said that she’s ready to leave. She’s packed, her mother refuses to move, and she’s waiting for the right moment. When I asked when that would be, she was vague, but she’s getting out, jumping in her car and just going “in the direction your eyes look” as a proverb prompts.

She’s afraid to drive by herself, but getting on a train is out of the question — train stations are overrun by a sea of desperate humanity.

For all of them, those who are now safe, those who attempt the trip, what next? Refugees are only temporarily welcome.

These are the emails leading up to the present:


Monday, Feb. 28, 12:13 PM

Now they are bombing, the village Pogreby (next to where we are) is burning, rockets are wailing, frightening…


Monday, Feb. 28, 12:39 PM

Dear aunt Tania! They are shooting next door.

Today we managed to get some bread and mild. We’ll have enough for a couple of days.

If only the world would unite as soon as possible against this monster! We won’t be able to stand this mentally much longer! But we are trying!!! Our boys are fighting without fear or exhaustion!

Maybe we can SKYPE. Horrible bombing!

The world must step forward against Putler. The Russian artistic elite write words of support to us. They are ashamed and disgusted by their country.

Tuesday, March 1, 9:10 AM

We came home, and see THIS!!! (a phot of a pile of rubble)

The hospital is destroyed, residential areas, 8 killed, many wounded. The fighter plane was shot down and it fell a little farther, but managed to do a lot damage!

This is how we live.


Wednesday, March 2, 12:47 P.M.

My some miracle Andriy found a ride, by some miracle we got on the train. Going to Lviv. Andriy stayed to defend Kiyv


Thursday, March 3, 2022 2:44 PM

Dear aunt Tania!

For now we’re alive. With each minute the situation is more gets and more tense, they started marauding. Kharkiv is half destroyed. Almost all my friends left. Mama refuses absolutely! I won’t leave her, and anyway, we may not get there because of her health.

I don’t even want to talk about all the nightmares. Until we talk again. Kisses. Yulia

Thursday, March 3, 2022 10:51 PM

My friends a scattered all over Ukraine. Most are already in Poland and Germany. Natasha is home, mama doesn’t feel well. This week we slept a few hours.

I’m torn between wanting to run away and hiding. It’s dangerous to run alone, and there’s bombing everywhere, and far to the border. I might not even be able to get there by car. So for the time being, we’re hiding.


Friday, March 4,12:56 PM

Greetings, my dear ones!

Again, thank you for the support!

The situation is changing every moment, depending on the information we get. They give visas in the embassy, but there’s no talk at all about refugees, there are enough of them in the USA, and there are no programs to deal with these refugees…

We can stay here until the end of March!

This is not for us. We’ll try to go to Germany; Lena’s friend is calling us.

This is today, we’ll see what will happen tomorrow…

The most important thing--we are safe, but we need to look ahead.

We are grateful to Poland…but with each day there are more and more people, and there’s no room for everyone…

We are in constant contact with Andriy, he’s busy, we worry about him…

The children in a bed for the first time after the bomb shelter and a two day trip


Monday, March 7, 11:12 AM

My dear ones, We are exhausted. The children are playing and drawing airplanes. For now we are staying. Who knows about tomorrow. No word from Andriy.

Tatiana Liaugminas was born after WWII to Ukrainian parents, refugees from the former Soviet Union. She’s an American citizen, with relatives in Ukraine. She teaches Russian at the University of Dayton.

About the Author