How the war affects young Ukrainians (part 4): ‘Drinking cider and eating string cheese with my girlfriend, all these things are gone now’

When the war in Ukraine started, everything just turned upside down. Read the story of Nikita, a young Ukrainian journalist who tells us about the people staying in Kyiv. What caused his new political views, and how does he cope with them? This story is the fourth and -for now- last one in our series on how the war affects young Ukrainians.

At 20 years old, Nikita is an international journalist for Ukrainian national television. He stays in Kyiv and has just changed his political views.

What is your last memory before Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February 2022 and after the war had started? 

‘In general, I did not believe that the war would begin. It was impossible, as if Mars attacked our planet, although who knows what else could begin.’

‘My memories are incredibly prosaic because, on 24 February, we began to create a plan B at work. The debate started over whether they would pay salaries, how many people would stay at work in Kyiv, and who would be sent to Lviv. I told everyone, ‘Sit tight, there will be money, everything will be fine, there will be a salary, and no one will shoot.’ The following day I woke up from the explosion. I guess I still haven’t realised that Russia is attacking us.’

Tell us what else internal changes have taken place?

‘Now, I began to appreciate what I had not appreciated before. I began to look at things differently. No matter how trivial, when you go out into the street, and it seems like the sun is shining, everything is blooming, the air is fresh, and the wind is blowing in your face. And you smile and understand how great it is. Because before that, you could spend several days, weeks indoors, or generally underground.’

Nikita with his girlfriend Polina. © Nikita Skoblikov

‘And if I go back to the last memory, it’s the last time my girlfriend Polina and I sat in a bar. We didn’t see each other for a long time because I had corona. Then she had to evacuate after the invasion started. As a result, I have not seen her for almost three months. Now there are a lot of flashbacks in my memory as we sat nicely in the evenings, drank cider, and ate string cheese. That was so nice. And now all this was gone.’

How have your political views changed?

‘Until 24 February, I was firmly convinced that the occupation of Crimea and Donbas should be resolved through diplomacy. A peaceful settlement. Yes, these would be concessions. And yes, it was unpleasant because why should we give up something when they took away our territories?’

‘I believed that in that situation it was the only correct possible outcome. To go to war for taking away territories was not an option’


‘I believed that in that situation it was the only correct possible outcome. To go to war for taking away territories was not an option. I don’t know where my conventionally political views would have taken me if the war hadn’t started on the 24th. I have lost the feeling that everything can be resolved, that an agreement could be reached, because of what has been done by the authorities in Russia and their media. It’s a shame.’

‘After all, I used to think that a giant neighbour with oil and gas could come in handy. You should be able to negotiate. Now, it seems to me it’s necessary to fence off, perhaps with some wall, at least. Something must be done. And it will not work to communicate the way I thought possible before.’

‘Regarding my previous political favourites (now, some of these politicians support the war in Ukraine – editor’s note), I feel confused. There is resentment towards certain people. There is both misunderstanding and a desire to understand.’

How has your attitude towards the Ukrainian government changed?

‘As a state at war, they do everything right. The Americans and the British have asked Zelensky to leave, and the fact that he’s staying means a lot. Obviously, we are not told the exact loss; I am sure it is not so smooth. But on the other hand: what should they say in time of war? They act and tell everything relatively correctly and what is needed. All my attention is focused only on military issues. During wartime, I think our state behaves responsibly.’

‘All my attention is focused only on military issues. During wartime, I think our state behaves responsibly’

‘Until 24 February, I felt that the Ukrainian government had no experience. We had a request for new faces after the 2019 elections. And I thought their carelessness could have played against Ukraine in crucial moments because of their inexperience. But it didn’t happen.’

‘As for my previous political favourites, I feel confused. There is resentment against certain people, and there’s a misunderstanding, a desire to understand.’

How do you feel now?

‘Now I have no relaxation to walk and meet my friends. Understandably curfew is still working in Ukraine. And my work on the first day of the full-scale war went into a remote format, and literally, just now, we are going back to our office in Khreshchatyk in Kyiv.’

Curious about the other stories? You can find them following the links below:

How the war affects young Ukrainians (part 1): ‘I had to become an adult at the age of 20’

How the war affects young Ukrainians (part 2): ‘Volunteering is the only thing that I have from my past life’

How the war affects young Ukrainians (part 3): ‘I want to talk to people, not write to them’

Text: Anastasiia Kerpan & Nataliia Huchok
Photo: © Nikita Skoblikov