The Ukrainian flag flies at City Hall after Mayor Tecklenburg releases statement in support of Ukrainian people Friday | Photo provided

Updated Feb. 25 | Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday oversaw a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and a native Ukrainian with the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) said he was worried for the future of his home, family and friends in light of Russia’s military attacks on Ukraine. 

Dr. Oleg Palygin, a renal disease expert and associate professor with MUSC, said he has been able to keep in contact with those he is close to who still live in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine. In the last 24 hours, Russia began launching airstrikes on cities and military bases throughout the Eastern European country and sent ground troops and tanks from multiple points across the border.

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“They saw all that happen in … just approximately 24 hours — the sounds of explosions near the city — lots of people woke up and started calling their friends, checking the news and social media to see what happened,” Palygin said. “Later, lots of people are just trying to go to the store, buy food, buy gas, just prepare for the situation.”

Those with families or those unwilling to stay in major cities through the attacks have evacuated, leading to heavy traffic on the roads, he said. 

“Where I grew up — the city, the people, the political situation — we were supposed to look up with a telescope and explore space,” Palygin said. “But we do absolutely the opposite, going back a whole century and starting another primitive fight. This is not what I expect nowadays.” 

And Palygin isn’t alone. At least two other doctors with MUSC and one of his students are originally from Ukraine. And though he could not speak on the greater population of the Lowcountry as a whole, he said area Ukranians are, “very aware of the situation. From the Ukrainian vision, they’re all very grateful for the United States, for the support. This is the country most supporting Ukraine right now, and that’s very important. And it’s not coming from the government — it’s coming from the people.” 

Palygin said people in the Lowcountry who want to help the people of Ukraine through the hardships caused by the conflict have multiple options. But the most impactful way to support Ukraine is by asking South Carolina’s senators and congresspeople to provide as much support as possible to the Ukrainian people. 

Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg spoke on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as Russia continues its invasion and the Ukrainian flag was raised to fly above Charleston City Hall. 

“Charleston has a long history of ceremonially raising national flags over City Hall, most famously the Irish flag in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day,” Tecklenburg said. “Today, we fly the flag of Ukraine for a more solemn reason — to recognize the extraordinary valor of the Ukrainian people as they fight for their democracy against a brutal Russian dictator. We’re proud to stand in solidarity with the brave men and women of Ukraine and hope Mr. Putin will heed the call of decent people the world over to immediately end this cruel and unjust war.”

As of Friday afternoon, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said 137 civilian and military personnel were killed in the Russian Invasion. The ongoing conflict has humanitarian efforts scrambling as civilians flee their homes or take refuge in bomb shleters and underground structures throughout the Eastern European country.

If you want to help, try some of these organizations seeking assistance: 

UNICEF USA – UNICEF is supporting health, nutrition, HIV prevention, education, water, sanitation and more.

Doctors Without Borders – DWB is involved in a range of activities with local volunteers, organizations, health care professionals and authorities to aid in travel to and from health care facilities.

Voices of Children – VoC is a Ukraine-based Charitable Foundation helping to provide mental health support to children. 

Red Cross – However possible, the American Red Cross is supporting the work of the Ukrainian Red Cross.

International Medical Corps – IMC, a global nonprofit, has been delivering primary health care and mental health services in Eastern Ukraine for nearly a decade. It’s now raising funds to expand those services.

This list is not exhaustive, as many other organizations are helping families caught in the conflict.

SC Elected Officials
You can always call the offices of our national level elected officials too and express your support for efforts to help the Ukrainians.

Contact U.S. Sen. Tim Scott
Contact U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham
Contact U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace
Contact U.S. Rep. James Clyburn

To support the Ukrainian Military directly, the National Bank of Ukraine has established a special donation account specifically to support troops and equipment purchases. Donate here.

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