Dispatches from Ukraine: 'I'm about to turn 26, and I really hope that won't happen in a basement'

Posted at 10:44 AM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-28 12:11:19-05

(LEX 18) — Sitting in the dark outside a basement in a Ukrainian home, Tetiana Donets, 25, logged onto Zoom to speak with LEX 18 about the last few days that have changed the trajectory of her life and that of her country.

"I'm about to turn 26, and I really hope that won't happen in a basement," Donets said with a soft laugh.

We learned of Donets' story from a producer with LEX 18. They went to college together when Donets studied in the United States. She had since returned to Ukraine, where her family and boyfriend live.

In light of Russia's invasion of her country, she has been forced into survival mode. Donets is staying with her boyfriend and his family in their house. Because of the constant threat of airstrikes, they spend most of their time in the basement.

"In a strange way, Ukrainians are prepared to die," Donets said.

Tetiana Donets interview

Donets said while she does not want to die, the thought of seeing loved ones die is much direr.

"Dying is definitely not as scary as seeing other people die," she said. "I definitely think a lot about the grandparents, for instance, who could die just from getting that much stress."

Donets said there are several children hunkering down with them.

"I can't comprehend how to explain this to them that there is a real danger of them dying," she said.

Donets said her parents, who are nearby in Kyiv, have lost electricity, but have used their generator to check in and let her know they are still alive.

"The anger that I feel inside is just beyond anything," she said.

Donets, who describes herself as a pacifist, said she would take up arms if needed.

"A couple of days ago, I looked at [Putin's] face," she said. "And I was like, 'If I was right next to him, I would strangle him with my bare hands.'"

In the meantime, Donets has joined an online volunteer group to try to get supplies to people on the ground in Ukraine.

"We're all so high on this desire to help," she said.

Donets said she is proud of her fellow Ukrainians and her president.

"Russia didn't really realize that we are way more prepared than they could imagine in their worst nightmare," she said.