Tulane Law grad working in Ukraine gives latest on conditions in his war-torn country

Published: May. 15, 2022 at 12:16 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Ivan Bondarchuk is back in his home in Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, where he says life is better than it was initially when Russian forces invaded his country nearly three months ago.

“Yeah, actually, I’m not bad, given the fact that there’s a war in Ukraine,” Bondarchuk told Fox 8 in an exclusive interview Sunday morning (May 15). “You can maintain a pretty usual lifestyle as we used to do before.”

Bondarchuk says there are still plenty of signs of damage and destruction around major cities, even in areas where Ukrainian forces have managed to push back the Russian military.

There also are still blockades on certain roads and curfews in place.

“But they are becoming more soft every week,” he said.

The same does not apply to every region of his country, though. For instance, cities such as Mariupol, still are under siege and bombardment from Russian forces, and Ukrainian civilians there are still trapped.

Bondarchuk says the fighting is nowhere near over. But, in areas such as Kharkiv, the tide is beginning to turn.

“That’s a very big deal. Because, for the first time really since the war, people say that they can sleep in, like, relatively safe situations,” said Bondarchuk.

“Once they push Russians back from Kharkiv, then the (Ukrainian) army will be able to concentrate on cutting supply roads to Russian forces.”

As an attorney, Bondarchuk spent the first weeks of the invasion working pro-bono to help civilians in need and helping document potential war crimes. He now is working again for his law firm, helping client businesses sue the Russian federation for damages.

“We are now dealing with the biggest companies that suffered losses and damages from Russian aggression,” he said. “So what we are doing now is assisting our clients to record evidence.”

As Tulane prepares for graduation ceremonies next weekend, Bondarchuk says he has been in steady contact with his alma mater about what is happening in Ukraine, helping to build support in the New Orleans region.

“I was able to share my perspective and I was able to share a lot of contacts, and a lot of ways to donate and support,” he said.

And he urges Americans and people all over the world to continue supporting Ukraine. Because victory there, he said, is victory for democracy around the world.

“We have, all together, a unique chance to weaken Russia,” Bondarchuk said, specifically referencing Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Right now, his authority is broken,” Bondarchuk said. “And, basically, we have a unique chance to say that this way of regime will not horrify the world anymore.”

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