A Ukrainian visiting Nebraska during a tour of the United States says he is ready to return and to fight, if necessary.
Maksym Khlapuk is a 29-year-old student of the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine in the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs.
He shared his insight about the crisis in Ukraine with Nebraska legislators during a visit to the Capitol this week as part of the Friendship Force of Lincoln, which hosted the Open World Delegates from Ukraine.
Khlapuk returns to Ukraine today, and could well be mobilized as Russian troops gather at the borders of his country.
“I will serve in the regular army to protect my state, to protect the borders of Ukraine against the Russian aggression,” Khlapuk tells Nebraska Radio Network.
Khlapuk worked for a member of the parliament in Ukraine prior to joining the Diplomatic Academy.
Klapuk says he has been keeping up with events as they unfold in his native land. He nearly called off his trip to the United States because of the building crisis, he says.
There is real worry about war in Ukraine. Russia has already annexed Crimea, a peninsula off the mainland of Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin justified the action, stating he has a right to protect Russians within Ukraine, a statement that some interpret to mean he will move on Ukraine itself.
Moscow has been unhappy ever since a pro-Russia government in Kiev has been displaced by one not as friendly to Russian interests.
Both the United States and Europe have pledged economic sanctions against Russia as it gathers troops along its border with Ukraine. Europe, though, relies heavily on Russian energy exports.
Khlapuk hopes economic sanctions work, keeping Russia out and Ukraine independent.
“I have strongly believed that it is our common interest to preserve peace and to preserve the independence of Ukraine and its borders.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]