CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On Monday, Russian military forces enacted attacks on Ukraine, launching missiles that struck civilian areas across the country.
Locally, Ukrainians with friends and family still in the country watch the news and worry.
“It’s the last thing I check before I go to sleep, and the first thing I check in the morning,” said Viktoria Pierce, who is from Kyiv, and still has family and friends in the city. “I have so many people there, I think it’s terrible what has happened there, and every day we just check if they’re still alive.”
After she heard about Monday’s attacks, Pierce immediately reached out to her family.
“Yesterday morning, I checked the news, and it was sort of a panic attack,” she said. “I started texting to check if they’re okay. Thank God they survived this attack, but people are really stressed out.”
Pierce speaks with her sister, who is still in Kyiv with her husband and son, nearly every day.
“My sister again said she’s afraid to go to sleep, that’s what happened to her last February and March, because of this high anxiety and non-stop stress,” she said. “My family is just trying to live normal lives. They still have jobs to do and they have a little lot of land, they planted their veggies and potatoes.”
Monday’s missile strikes were close to Pierce’s sister.
"They could hear missiles over their house, and then a couple minutes later they could hear explosions,” she said.
There are no shelters close to Pierce’s sister’s family, so when sirens sound, they shelter in their home.
“Every time, they just sit in between two walls, and this is the only protection they have,” she said. “They hope and they pray that this time they will survive again.”
Pierce said men are not allowed to leave Ukraine, as they may be needed to fight in the military. Because of that, many women will not leave the country, as they do not want to leave their husbands and sons behind.
As winter approaches, Pierce’s friends and family worry about what will happen when temperatures start to drop.
“Right now they’re bombing infrastructure, critical infrastructure,” she said. “If there’s no power, if there’s no heating, if there’s no water, there’s no way for people to survive.”
In a note of positivity, Pierce said a friend of hers was sheltering in a subway station during the missile strikes. While in the subway, the people started singing traditional Ukrainian songs.
“I think this spirit of the nation is unbreakable,” she said. “I don’t think Putin would be able to destroy this nation.”