“I want them to hate Russians.”
That is what Dr. Zoranya Ivanyuk, deputy director of Saint Nicholas Pediatric Hospital in Lviv, Ukraine, teaches her daughter, 12, and son, 6, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
She told Newsweek that when the war began, it was unexpected and “a shock” to everyone, causing chaos that citizens nationwide immediately had to grapple with and take on.
Four days after the war’s inception, her husband, Andriy, had left his job as a pediatric anesthesiologist and was already in Kyiv fighting alongside the Ukrainian army.
“[In] my opinion, he could do a lot of things here, even in the sense of teaching soldiers first aid, for example, or trying to do some courses,” Ivanyuk said. “But he refused because he preferred to go there and stay there and do all he could do there.
“That was only his decision. I cannot say I’m OK with that because still now I don’t agree.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen during an event marking the 100th anniversary of domestic civil aviation at the State Kremlin Palace, on February 9 in Moscow. Inset: Ukrainian troops riding on an armored vehicle pass through Lyman, Ukraine, on February 17. One pediatric director in Lviv, Ukraine, has a husband fighting in the war while she takes care of hospitalized children.
Getty Images; Scott Peterson/Getty Images
He has returned home three times since his first deployment—once for one week, once for two weeks, and the most recent time for about a month. He was stationed in Mykolaiv and Kherson, and he spent several months in Bakhmut before returning to Kherson.
While she answers her children’s frequent questions about their father’s safety and whereabouts, Ivanyuk also has a job to do.
Formerly a worker in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit, in addition to being an experienced pediatric anesthesiologist, she became a medical director within the past year. She and the pediatric wing’s 800 employees see children coming into the hospital every day either having been injured in the war or needing care for chronic diseases or emergency surgeries.
“Now, we are really not only the doctors; we need to be psychologists, parents, teachers, animators—a lot of things in one person,” she said. “I know it’s difficult for a lot of people….It’s really difficult to get children on that train because every kid is someone’s ruined life.
“The worst thing is when we’ve got children without parents. This is really difficult because we need to understand, we need to know what to do for them when they are discharged from the hospital. They have no place to go.”
There are 440 beds in the pediatric unit, which decided to offer pediatric cardiac surgery when the war started because children can’t make the journey to hospitals in Kyiv, over 300 miles away.
With children unable to safely get treated in Kyiv, Lviv has become a hub, allowing parents to stay with newborn children or to receive care from doctors who specialize in neurological issues, for example.
In 2022, nearly 16,000 kids were admitted to the hospital. About 700 of them were injured.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said that a total of 7,199 civilian deaths have occurred since the war began, including 438 children. Another 11,756 people were reported to have been injured, of which 854 were children, though the office says real numbers could be higher as totals have become more difficult to verify.
On Friday, the U.K. Ministry of Defence estimated that Russian military forces along with private military contractor fighters have suffered between 175,000 and 200,000 casualties. The daily briefing also said that the numbers include between 40,000 and 60,000 killed.
‘I Want to Believe’ ZelenskyIvanyuk knows she and her family don’t know if they’ll “have a tomorrow,” but she tries to keep a brave face, especially for her children. That means taking the kids outdoors and attempting to live as normal a life as possible.
“I understand that people are tired, both in Ukraine and abroad,” Ivanyuk said. “I understand that people run out of money and that’s why we’re still grateful everyone is supporting us.”
She added, “I respect [Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky] of course. I respect that he is still here; I want to believe he is trying to do his best. I’m not so deeply in politics to know that for sure, but I hope so. I want to believe him.”
Peace negotiations between leaders of both nations started days after Russia’s invasion, though talks dissipated by April of last year.
Last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the conflict would only cease when Ukraine is no longer a military threat to Russia, citing security concerns.
“Ukraine, like any other territory bordering Russia, of course, should not host military infrastructure that poses a direct threat to our country,” Lavrov said when discussing what would be needed to end the war, according to the Russian state-controlled media outlet RT.
Zelensky previously introduced a 10-point peace plan as a condition for negotiations, including restoring Ukraine’s territorial integrity and Putin pulling out all of his troops.
The Ukrainian president last month called Putin “a nobody,” adding that Putin “doesn’t want negotiations because he doesn’t want peace.”
Ivanyuk believes all territory in Ukraine should belong to Ukraine and that “there is no other way but victory.”
As for her husband of 12 years, she still asks him when he will come home permanently. He said he wants to see the war through so their son doesn’t have to fight the same battles in 10 years.
“It is not only the fault of Putin,” she said. “Every Russian absolutely is responsible for everything that is going on here. Every Russian. And what I want my children in their future to know is, I want them to hate Russians and remember everything that was done by them here. And I want Russians to be afraid of Ukrainians. I will be happy with that.”
Source : Newsweek